Bipartisan agreement: the Senate is exasperating

BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT: THE SENATE IS EXASPERATING…. We’ll get a better sense in the coming days whether the Senate is prepared to approve some modest reforms. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a leading proponent of changing how the chamber functions (or doesn’t), continues to champion reform, and the outcome of his efforts should be clear early next week.

The vast majority of those hoping to see Senate changes are Democrats, fed up with unprecedented Republican obstructionism. Bradford Plumer notes today, however, that some GOP leaders are getting fed up with the Senate, too. They’re just in the other chamber.

For the last two years, the Senate has been the major barricade between the country and various bits of progressive legislation. Over and over again, the House would pass a bill — climate legislation, anyone? — and liberal groups would get excited, only to watch the thing get scuttled by filibusters in the Senate. (As Josh Green detailed in The Atlantic, this was a key part of Mitch McConnell’s strategy to frustrate Obama and bring the GOP back to power — after all, few voters pay much attention to arcane Senate procedure.) House Democrats, particularly Nancy Pelosi, never hid their disdain for the sluggish pace of the upper chamber.

But guess who hates the Senate now? Earlier this morning, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor kept insisting to reporters, “The Senate ought not to be a place where legislation goes into a dead end.” (He said some variation of this three times.) Cantor’s frustrated because the House is all set to repeal health care reform, and Harry Reid has said he’s not even going to bother bringing the bill up for consideration in the still-barely-Democratic Senate.” The American people deserve a full hearing,” Cantor said, “they deserve to see this legislation go to the Senate for a full vote.”

I heard those on the left joke in recent years that the Senate is the place where “good ideas go to die” so many times, I’ve lost count. I just never thought I’d see Eric Cantor making the same case.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.