Chuck Grassley Voices Anger Over Voice Vote on Nominee

Posted June 12, 2012 at 6:49pm

Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley today ripped into Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), accusing him of violating the chamber’s “comity” when he conducted a voice vote on the confirmation of Andrew Hurwitz to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — without first checking with Republicans.

“I’m extremely disappointed that there has been a breach of comity around here,” the Iowa Republican said in a floor speech late this afternoon, adding that “it seems to me that … all the business of the Senate is based on trust between one Senator and another. When the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee isn’t notified of this action — or any other Senator notified of this action — it seems to me that trust has been violated.”

“I won’t be satisfied that that trust has been restored unless there’s some action taken to have a roll call vote on this nomination,” he concluded.

Grassley’s complaint would represent a major escalation in the partisan warfare in the Senate.

Unfortunately for Grassley, it appears it was his own party — and not Reid — that broke protocol.

“This is between Grassley and his leadership. Republican leadership agreed to the UC. Any complaints Sen. Grassley might have should be directed to them,” a senior Democratic leadership aide said.

Indeed, under Senate procedures, the Republican cloakroom would have first had to have cleared a unanimous consent agreement to voice vote on Hurwitz — or any other action not requiring a roll call vote.

The two parties’ cloakrooms typically call the office of every Senator to determine whether a lawmaker would object to a unanimous consent agreement, and at no time does the cloakroom of one contact members of the other party.

Whether the GOP cloakroom contacted its members is unclear — Grassley’s office and leadership sources had not responded to requests for comment at press time. However, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who is Hurwitz’ home-state Senator, was a major backer of the confirmation, and GOP sources said he cut the deal with Reid to confirm him by voice vote.

But Kyl outright rejected any suggestion that he would have undermined his colleagues’ rights.

“That is absolutely false, and I resent the suggestion,” Kyl said this evening.

Grassley’s angry outburst against Reid comes as the six-term Republican has become something of an Internet sensation for his creatively spelled Twitter posts.

This spring he set the Internet abuzz with his March 12 complaint about the History Channel: “History. No history. Axe man Timber Nothing historical. Back to FOX. Sigh. Suggest name to change channel name.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report