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Republicans Block Travel Promotion Bill in Senate

Senate Republicans rallied to block a travel promotion bill from being considered in the Senate on Monday over concerns about their right to offer amendments.

On a 53-34 vote, Democrats fell seven votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster, amid Republican defections and Democratic absences. Just last week, the Senate voted 90-3 to proceed to the largely bipartisan bill.

However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week used an arcane procedural maneuver to block all amendments to the bill, even as he sought to bring debate on the measure to a close.

One senior Senate Republican aide said Republicans felt Reid’s action was an affront to their minority rights. Still, two Republicans — Sens. John Ensign (Nev.) and Mel Martinez (Fla.) — voted with all Democrats to close debate on the bill.

Reid voted with Republicans so he could use procedural tools that will allow him to call a revote on the measure at a later date — when more Democratic Members are present to help him carry the day, one senior Senate Democratic aide said.

Reid used the GOP gambit to accuse Republicans of “obstructionism.—

“The Republicans just killed this over the most fictitious amount of reasoning,— Reid said on the floor Monday. “They said they weren’t allowed to offer amendments. That … is absolutely false.—

Reid said that it was not his reluctance to have votes on GOP amendments, but Republican reluctance to vote on Democratic proposals, that prompted him to try to shut down debate.

Meanwhile, Reid set up another potential showdown with the GOP over the nomination of Harold Koh to be legal adviser of the State Department, by filing another motion to choke off an attempted filibuster.

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