Senator Bayh announces "Moderate Dems Working Group"
Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) proclaimed today on MSNBC's Morning Joe the beginning of a new group of conservative Democrats that could work to block Obama's budget priorities.
The group, which is composed of 14 Senate Democrats and Joe Lieberman(I-CT), are the same Senators who met two weeks ago to discuss how centrists can assert more leverage on the policy debates that are dominating Congress. The goal of Bayh's “Moderate Dems Working Group” is to “work with the Senate leadership and the new administration to craft common-sense solutions to urgent national problems,” according to the press release. "You have to get the 60 votes in the Senate and that's going to be hard and it will take the centrists to get there. We want to help make the changes we need and that's what our group is all about," Bayh told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough.
In addition to Senators Bayh and Lieberman, others joining the group are Tom Carper of Delaware, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Mark Warner of Virginia.
Bayh and his colleagues have joined with Republicans to insist that the president gain a super-majority of 60 votes to pass any of his major reforms. Others warned the president not to use existing budget rules that require only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass either his clean energy or his health care reforms. Now, if the Moderate Dems Working Group votes alongside Republicans against Senate Democrats, they will be able to block Obama's major reforms, which need at least 60 votes to pass.
On Morning Joe, Lawrence O' Donnell emphasized the potential voting power that this new group will have. "This is the group that will control the outcome politically about what can pass on the senate floor."
Senator Bayh implied that he and his 14 moderate democrats were disgruntled with the way bills were being forced down their throats. "Our strong preference would be to work with our committee leaders, to work with leadership, to make sure that our considerations are taken into account in the bills that are formed in the committees before they get to the floor so that it would be a cooperative relationship. We would much prefer that. The difficulty comes when things are just handed down without taking into account the point of view of some of us," Bayh explained.
Joe Scarborough didn't hide his approval of Bayh's announcement. "This is very exciting to me," Scarborough said. "This is great."
This video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast Mar. 18, 2009.
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