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Raw video: Chairman Lindsey Graham chides Democratic senators for skipping committee meetings; Sen. Patrick Leahy says he was absent because he was at a family member's funeral.
The Senate Judiciary Committee erupted with infighting Thursday as a top Republican lawmaker pushed legislation aimed at crafting new rules for asylum-seekers from Central American countries.
Sen - Lindsey - Graham - R-SC - Chairman
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the committee, faced immediate accusations as he brought up the bill that he was violating Senate rules. In a dispute that quickly got personal, Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the committee was one Democrat shy of having a quorum during a meeting last week and therefore could not advance the bill.
“Why even have rules?” Feinstein asked rhetorically. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., backed her up, saying, “If the majority is willing to break any rule in order to report this bill today, there are no rules.”
Graham - Move - Bill - Weeks - Democrats
Graham defended the move, stating the bill had been ready to move forward for seven weeks and Democrats intentionally did not show up last week in an effort to stymie the legislation.
“I’m not changing the rules,” Graham said, noting that the rules allow a majority of the committee to decide to vote.
Graham - Democrats - Way - Committee
Graham said that if he allows the Democrats to get their way, “the committee becomes irrelevant.”
“It would be different if I had not tried. For seven weeks I withheld marking up this bill and I got nowhere,” Graham said angrily. “What you’re telling me is I should ignore what you did to me last week. I will not.”
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In an uncomfortable moment, Graham addressed Leahy directly, stating, “Senator Leahy, you’ve been here a long time. I would never have done this to you,” only for Leahy to state that he missed last week’s meeting “because a member of my family was being buried.”
Graham immediately offered condolences...
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