A ‘unilateral decision to end legislative activity in the Senate’

A ‘UNILATERAL DECISION TO END LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY IN THE SENATE’…. Stan Collender speculated over the weekend that Senate Republicans may very well try to shut down the pre-adjournment legislative schedule, and possibly even try to shut down the government, this week. As it turns out, Collender was onto something. Roll Call reports on a new GOP scheme that the newspaper accurately describes as “remarkable.”

Sen. Jim DeMint warned his colleagues Monday night that he would place a hold on all legislation that has not been “hot-lined” by the chamber or has not been cleared by his office before the close of business Tuesday. […]

Traditionally, the Senate passes noncontroversial measures by unanimous consent at the end of most workdays, a process known as hot-lining. DeMint, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and others have fought against the practice for years and have dedicated staff members to reviewing bills that are to be hot-lined.

As a result, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have generally given DeMint, Coburn and others time to review legislation before proceeding with unanimous consent agreements.

But in a terse e-mail sent to all 100 Senate chiefs of staff Monday evening, Steering Committee Chief of Staff Bret Bernhardt warned that DeMint would place a hold on any legislation that had not been hot-lined or been cleared by his office before the close of business Tuesday.

Roll Call added that aides from both parties were “stunned” by DeMint’s stunt, which effectively amounts to “a unilateral decision to end legislative activity in the Senate.” If he doesn’t personally approve of a measure, DeMint will kill it.

The Senate is still coming to terms with the practical implications, since the chamber was set to adjourn anyway on Thursday. But the Senate is set to consider, among other things, a “cloture motion to begin debate on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.”

In other words, senators may have to scramble to craft “a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating past Sept. 30,” and the death of several “non-controversial bills that both parties are looking to clear before Election Day.”

David Dayen has more on DeMint’s “one-man government shutdown,” including some procedural insights from David Waldman.