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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.
The committee eventually approved the bill on a narrow 12-10 vote — but only after Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., battled accusations that he was violating Senate rules by taking up the measure after the panel fell one Democrat shy of a quorum at a related meeting last week.
Rules - Member - Dianne - Feinstein - D-Calif
“Why even have rules?” Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 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 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.
Rules - Graham - Rules - Majority - Committee
“I’m not changing the rules,” Graham said, noting that the rules allow a majority of the committee to decide to vote.
Graham said that if he allows the Democrats to get their way, “the committee becomes irrelevant.”
Weeks - Bill - Graham - Week
“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.”
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 - Condolences - Democrats - Reasons
Graham immediately offered condolences but noted that he had been told Democrats would not show up for political reasons.
Graham also alleged that Democrats skipping the meeting were trying to disempower him. “You’re not going to take my job...
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