Earlier this afternoon, Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) struck back at Harry Reid (D-Nev.), questioning whether the Senate Majority Leader is “up to the job.” Reid had yesterday called the 49 Republican senators “puppets,” which Specter said was a violation of Senate Rule 19:
No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.
Specter finished his comments and invited Reid to respond, saying he’ll be nearby when it happens. Reid still has not responded.
UPDATE: Beyond merely citing the rule, Specter pointed out that Reid is not helping his cause of getting Republican cooperation by gratuitously insulting the people whose help he needs.
Specter also pointed out that nothing is getting done this week — no important votes so far. The Senate has been in quorum call for most of the afternoon (with very pretty classical music playing on C-Span 2). Senators will be taking a break in half an hour to light the Capitol Christmas Tree. They may just quit for the day after that.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how the Senate finishes up its business and gets out of here at the end of next week. Agreements have not been reached on most of the spending bills. And just to add to the mess, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the taxpayers’ bombthrower, has promised in a letter to colleagues that he will object to any last-minute bills that increase spending.
The Veterans’ Administration conference report is ready to go, and that’s one thing that would pass easily. But Democrats are holding it back because they want to use it as a bargaining chip, to force the President to sign (and Republicans to vote for) other spending bills that he has promised to veto (such as the Labor-HHS bill).
Reid said two days ago that he would do everything in his power to prevent doing another continuing resolution, but he might have to.
Meanwhile, Reid has not yet responded to Specter.