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Interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - December 16, 2010

Guests: Dave Weigel, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, David Corn

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Merry Christmas and have a good New Year to you, Keith.

If you think I"m going to leave you alone between now and the New Year"s, you"ve got another on thing coming.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  It"s theatrical thing.  It"s a TV.  No, never mind.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Keith.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

We start with breaking news out of Washington.  What we were expecting to bring you at this hour was a high stakes showdown on the Senate floor between Democrats and Republicans.  We expected to show you Democrats calling the Republicans" bluff tonight over a spending bill that Democrats hoped to pass before the end of the year.  It"s the spending bill to, you know, fund the government.  It"s the spending bill to fund the entire U.S. government through the next year.

Earlier today, Republicans threatened to paralyze the Senate by having that bill, all 1,924 pages of it, read out loud on the Senate floor.  Even though it was a bill that they helped author, even though a handful of Senate Republicans reportedly said they would support it when it came up for a vote.  Senate Republicans decided instead to obstruct it, to effectively kill it by forcing Democrats to have it read out loud pointlessly on the Senate floor"”a move that would halt all Senate action for upwards of 50 hours.

What we expected to bring you right now tonight was Democrats forcing Republicans to follow through on that threat.  We had it all planned out.  That was not to be.  Within the last hour, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Republican obstruction in this case worked.  Actually just the threat of Republican obstruction worked.  There will be no readings of the bill out loud on the Senate floor tonight.

But Senator Reid announced that Democrats will be withdrawing the spending bill altogether, a year of work to fund each department in the government down the drain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI:  This was a bipartisan effort, drafted by Republicans and Democrats.  It came to the floor after months of work by Democrats and Republicans.  And it was presented to this body in a bipartisan way to vote on.  I wasn"t going to vote on it.  I"m against it.

But I you just"”so I think that I have a slight bit of credibility to call these guys on this notion that this is something that sprung from nowhere out of some backroom on the Democratic side of the aisle.  This sprung from a bipartisan effort of the appropriations committee and every member on that side of the aisle knows it.  They know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Senator Claire McCaskill not speaking from notes.

This run-out-the-clock strategy that Republicans are employing is an attempt to prevent the Senate from taking up all the other work that the Senate is trying to get to, things like the nukes treaty with Russia, the repeal of "don"t ask, don"t tell," the DREAM Act.

On those last two items, there is some big news to report as well.  Tonight, Senator Reid announced that the Senate will hold votes this Saturday on the DREAM Act and stand-alone bill to repeal "don"t ask, don"t tell," Saturday.  Those votes right now scheduled for Saturday.

There"s action on the House side of Capitol Hill tonight as well.  At this hour, the House is debating the tax cuts compromise that President Obama struck with congressional Republicans.  You may recall the Senate passed this bill last night.  It has now moved over to the House for its approval there.

The debate is expected to continue for the next few hours with a final vote coming sometime around midnight.  Now, if you"re saying to yourself right now, wait a second, the House"”didn"t the House already pass the extension of the Bush tax cuts?  Didn"t they?  Yes.  You would be correct.

Two weeks ago, House Democrats passed a version of the tax cuts bill.  That was the one favored by President Obama and most Democrats.  Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER:  On this vote, the yeas are 234.  The nays are 188.  The motion is adopted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: The motion is adopted.  The motion that House Democrats passed that night was the extension of the Bush tax cuts that President Obama and congressional Democrats campaigned on.  It was tax cuts just for income below a quarter million.  The bonus tax cuts for income over a quarter million for the richest Americans, those were allowed to expire.  That"s what they passed.

Also the estate tax would return to the level that it was at during the Clinton administration.  Sorry, we"ve got a huge deficit problem.  And those things don"t do anything for the economy.  They only benefit rich people.  And we just can"t afford these giveaways to the rich right now.

President Obama and congressional Democrats campaigned on that policy and House Democrats did it.  House Democrats got that done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI:  The motion is adopted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The motion is adopted.  Except that it wasn"t.  That version of the tax cuts bill"”yes, it passed the House, but it died in the United States Senate.  It fell victim to a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

This phenomenon of House Democrats passing something that President Obama and Democrats campaigned on only to see it die in the Senate, this is not a lonely phenomenon.  This has lots and lots and lots of company.  You remember when Democrats campaigned on passing cap-and-trade energy legislation?

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