Morning Joe | July 24, 2012
>>> welcome back to " morning joe ." here with us now republican senator from maine, senator olympia snowe . welcome back to the show. nice to see you.
>> nice to be on the program,mika. thank you.
>> it's good to have you here.
>> hi, joe.
>> you are talking about the need for the senate , well, to do some clean-up and start by cleaning up some of the procedural rules. how do we make the senate work better than it has over the past several years?
>> obviously it's going to require collaboration between the majority and minority leaders and let the senate be the senate . what's transpired is we've seen on the floor of the senate we're not having the ability to have the amendment process so that we can consider the major issues of the day. these bills aren't even going through a committee. so we're bypassing all of the regular procedures that are so traditional and inherent in the institution of the united states senate . and unfortunately what we're addressing today are more party platform positions up or down and not having the ability to get beyond that and work stthrough decisions and have an agenda that works for the country given what's coming is the fiscal cliff in this lame duck session . we're not addressing it now.
>> you have the republicans that are filibustering more than usual, harry reid is using the senate as a pocket veto to kill ideas coming out of the house but then you have the senate bringing up bills that will never pass to set up people in the next election. it's not working. the senate is not working.
>> i want to ask you about a certain vote to filibuster the disclose act. but first you wrote a letter to senator reid and mcconnell and you write in part this, "regrettably the current dramatic departure from the normal processes of the past which has been the subject of recent discussions between you on the senate floor is handcuffing the senate 's ability to respond to the most profound issues of the nation. including filibustering?
>> obviously filibustering does. first of all, we don't have bills going through the committee process anymore, the disclose act. so it comes to the floor, clotures in vote on the motion to proceed. and ordinarily it wasn't be necessary to have a cloture on the motion to proceed and it shouldn't. on the other hand we have to make sure we have an open amendment process rather than filling by a minority leader that denies any amendment and he preselects them on behalf of the minority we can vote on. everything has been destroyed. and there's responsibility shared by both sides. the question is how do we get beyond this given what we're facing in the future. i don't want to see a repeat of the debacle of the debt ceiling. again, that could have been averted and it wasn't until the 11th hour on august 2nd and we lost our triple a sterling credit rating .
>> i wouldn't agree more with what you're saying but let's dig into the weeds here. the disclose act would have required disclosure of anyone who donates to independent groups that spent more than $10,000 on campaign ads or their functional equivalent. why would you vote to filibuster that?
>> the key is could we have the ability to have amendments to address some of those issues. i'm not here just to vote on somebody designing a package behind closed doors by a few people and saying take it or leave it up or down when you're in the united states senate and the ability of the united states senate is to have unlimited ability to debate and power to amend. i would like to have my voice. it was my provision struck down by the supreme court in citizens united . that was a fundamental issue as part of mccain-feingold. i would want to see more campaign finance reform and i'm sorry what happened in terms of what came out of the supreme court . nevertheless you have to have it fair on both sides. in that case it was a $10,000 threshold disclosure that will require private sector to make those disclosures because they're more in that category, but not those who contribute to unions. so we have to make it balanced. that's what i propose to do in my decision, which was struck down by the court because i think it drew a bright line in fairness, in making showure we did have transparency.
>> they aren't the only obstacle to progress. you had the congressional, democrat democratic majorities and big things were passed. there was big stuff that was done and procedural measures didn't really hold those things up.
>> it's an interesting point on the health care measure. to a point. we marked up the tax provisions in the finance committee and, you know, obviously this bill went to the floor with the health care bill but then we never had an open amendment process. one it was reported to the floor at the end of november, we didn't start voting on the health care measure until right before christmas and another 1,200 pages approximately were added to the bill, again behind closed doors with no ability to amend, to address, to build i was urging the leadership to provide the majority leadership, and to have an open amendment process which i was promises at the time during the finance committee proceedings and regrettably, that didn't take place. the ability to be able to debate and amend the united states , it's a financial of the senate . what's interesting, there were 20 rules at beginning and creation of the united states senate and 16 of the original rules remain. so there is flexibility in these rules. it's the question of the practice and the norm and the human behavior , that has to change. the process dictates policy, and we're not dealing with the big issues that are looming in lame duck session of 36 days to deal with all of the major issues, with the tax cut expiration, with the debt ceilingen crease, with the automatic cuts across the board, with the 12 annual appropriations we have not addressed. i mean the list goes on. we haven't done anything in the last two years to address all of these mighty issues that could put us in a very different place and not impairle our fiscal future.
>> senator olympia snowe , thank you very much. tomorrow's show, we'll talk to governor scott walker , former governor tom ridge and hall of fame musician graham nash of crosby, stills, nash