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Senate Defeats GOP GI Amendment

Senate Democrats on Wednesday defeated, 55-42, a GI bill amendment that Republicans attempted to tack onto a collective bargaining measure.

In a surprise move, the measure was introduced Wednesday morning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who co-sponsored the GI bill with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The measure is the Republican version of an expanded GI bill being pushed by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.).

The Republican tactical maneuver caused a procedural meltdown on the Senate floor, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling for a cloture vote on the Graham amendment and preventing the introduction of Democratic alternatives.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denounced the Republican move and attributed it to presidential politics designed to help McCain.

“There’s a lot of things we can do to bring the presidential politics to what is going on here on the floor,” Reid warned, adding that McCain was “wrong on the war and wrong on the economy.”

Reid called a quorum call and thrice prevented Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) from speaking.

At about 3:30 p.m., once the Graham amendment was tabled, Gregg took to the floor to denounce Reid’s heavy-handed floor management as “consistently” aimed at bringing “down the entire operations of the Senate.”

Graham “had every right to come forward with any amendment. … The majority party for some reason has decided to try and run the Senate as if it’s the House of Representatives,” Gregg charged angrily.

Gregg said Senate Democrats were running the floor in an “autocratic way” that prevented the minority from exercising their right to offer amendments.

Following Gregg’s speech, Webb came to the floor and reminded his colleagues that the GI benefits bill was a bipartisan endeavor and called on them to “set partisan bickering aside.”

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