Harry Reid calls for return to ‘civil’ Senate
By: Burgess Everett
October 4, 2013 11:20 AM EDT
Majority Leader Harry Reid urged his colleagues — and reminded himself — to uphold the Senate’s standards of civility Friday morning.
In a departure from a series of blistering opening speeches this week, Reid said the past month of the Senate has been a departure from arcane rules to encourage senators to address each other indirectly, encouraging debate over ideas rather than people. The Nevada Democrat reminded the chamber to address people in the third-person and to speak through the presiding officer of the Senate, unusual but necessary rules championed by former majority leader and master parliamentarian Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).
“We’ve all here in the Senate kind of lost the Aura of Robert Byrd, who was such a stickler for Senate procedure,” Reid said. “The Senate is a very special place with very particular rules. These rules help to keep debate among senators civil, even when we’re discussing matters on which senators completely disagree.”
Reid acknowledged he was not exempt from breaching Senate decorum and offered “self-criticism” for blasting Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) when Cruz was not on the floor on Thursday. Reid called the freshman conservative the “joint speaker” of the House, a reference to Cruz’s continued influence over House Republicans. That Thursday outburst prompted Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) to warn the Democratic leader that traditions of decorum were in “jeopardy of being transgressed.”
“Directing a little self-criticism here, I think we have to understand that these rules help to keep debate among senators civil, even when we’re discussing matters on which senators completely disagree,” Reid said Friday. “I bring this to the attention of senators because we’ve fallen out of habit. I will work harder and I hope my colleagues will do their best to maintain these matters of decorum.”
After this, Reid spoke in honor Brian Carter, the Capitol Police Officer who was injured on Thursday during a violent incident on Capitol Hill. Then he and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) went on to criticize continued Republican attacks on Obamacare.