Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) “warned his colleagues Monday night that he would place a hold on all legislation that has not been ‘hot-lined’ by the chamber or has not been cleared by his office before the close of business Tuesday,” Roll Call reports.
Although the South Carolina Republican has objected for years to the hot-lining of legislation until his staff at the Republican Steering Committee has reviewed it, DeMint’s threat to essentially shut down legislation in the chamber is remarkable.
Traditionally, the Senate passes noncontroversial measures by unanimous consent at the end of most workdays, a process known as hot-lining. DeMint, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and others have fought against the practice for years and have dedicated staff members to reviewing bills that are to be hot-lined.
As a result, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have generally given DeMint, Coburn and others time to review legislation before proceeding with unanimous consent agreements.
But in a terse e-mail sent to all 100 Senate chiefs of staff Monday evening, Steering Committee Chief of Staff Bret Bernhardt warned that DeMint would place a hold on any legislation that had not been hot-lined or been cleared by his office before the close of business Tuesday.
Democratic and Republican “aides alike were stunned, arguing that DeMint had essentially made a unilateral decision to end legislative activity in the Senate.”
The practical effect of DeMint’s warning is unclear; most of the Senate’s remaining major legislation will likely be handled after lawmakers vote Tuesday on a cloture motion to begin debate on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The Senate is expected to adjourn this week for the midterm Congressional campaigns.
(credit image – daylife/associated press)