In a move to reassert Congressional independence at the start of the new presidential administration, the vice president will be barred from joining weekly internal Senate deliberations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun.That's Lisa Mascaro in (guess what) the Las Vegas Sun. The point, as she reminds us, is to redirect form the era of Dick Cheney in which every Tuesday morning "traffic in the Senate halls came to a standstill ... as Secret Service agents cleared the way for the VP and his entourage." Just for good measure, Mascaro reports that the incoming vice-president, barely-former senator Joe Biden, thinks this is just fine "“He and Senator Reid see eye to eye on this,” Mascaro quotes a spokesperson as saying.
Reid’s decision to exclude Vice President-elect Joe Biden from the Senate arena where he spent most of his adult life is intended to restore constitutional checks and balances that tilted heavily toward the executive branch during the Bush presidency.
Couple of thoughts:
- One's first impulse is: boy, Obama will come to regret that. On the other hand, maybe not. Maybe it's another whiff of an unsettling scent around the Obama administration: the suggestion that the incoming president may want not so much as to lead as to reign. If he doesn't want to assert himself over the Senate, what will he do when the Senate undertakes to assert itself over him?
- On the other hand, it is hard to imagine a Senate--a Congress--more passive and supine than the current item (Republicans and Democrats alike). If anything--anything--puts a bit of zing back in their zinger, the republic may be the winner.