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11/05/2004

Harry Reid

Daniel Kreiss of Exegesis isn't happy with the selection of Harry Reid as Senate Minority Leader. I'm not thrilled with him either, but for different reasons. Reid's voting record is as good as it gets in the Democratic party, with the exception of his hostility to women's reproductive rights. Lets look at some of the votes Kreiss highlights:

  1. Reid voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996) This was DOMA. It was a resolution, not an enforceable law. It is a morally abominable resolution, but it received broad bipartisan support, including the vote of liberal lion Paul Wellstone. Wellstone conceded that it was a bad vote, an instance of placing reelection and political expediency over principle, but there was obviously significant pressure on Democrats to vote for DOMA to minimize it as an issue just before the campaign. Reid wasn't up for reelection in '96, so he gets less leeway, but it still isn't a fatal vote.

  2. Reid voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001) This was the Patriot Act. Russ Feingold was the only Senator to vote against it, and he comes from a narrowly Democratic swing state.

  3. Reid voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals. (Apr 1996) This was the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. It was a Clinton administration initiative passed in the wake of the Okahoma City bombing. It's not a good bill, but it was strongly supported by the party (91-8).

  4. Reid voted YES on rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals. (May 1994) He voted in favor of a resolution opposing the Racial Justice Act, which was opposed by the Democratically controlled Senate 58-41.

  5. Reid voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy. (Jul 2003) It passed the Senate 84-14. He later supported a filibuster of the conference report on the bill.

  6. Reid voted YES on $40 billion per year for limited Medicare prescription drug benefit. (Jun 2003) The bill didn't look nearly as bad initially. It passed the Senate 76-21, with 10 Republicans and 11 Democrats opposing it.

  7. Reid voted YES on welfare block grants. (Aug 1996); Reid voted YES on welfare overhaul. (Sep 1995) The block grant Bill passed 78-21. Welfare Reform passed 87-12.
I don't support any of those votes. But in no case was Reid voting against the Democratic Party line. I want our Minority Leader to be partisan and aggressive. By all appearances, Reid is that.

Unfortunately, he's from Nevada. He won on Tuesday with 60% of the vote, but Kerry ultimately lost. Nevada is trending Democratic, and Reid's status as leader may accelerate the process. My concern is that he may be forced into a Daschle-like bind of leading the party against his own electoral interest.

 

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