Senators Engaged In Incredibly Dumb Fight Over Thatcher Resolution

Mostly drowned out, thankfully, by the Boston Marathon story, has been an incredibly dumb fight going on in the United States Senate over a resolution to honor the life of former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher. It became a story mostly because conservatives began claiming over the weekend that Senator Bob Menendez is blocking a resolution from even making it to the floor. In all honesty, I had a hard time believing this story because I can’t think of any rational reason that the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would be so petty as to block a simple resolution honoring the life of someone who has a close ally of the United States throughout her life. As it turns, out, the story wasn’t entirely true because Menendez was apparently advocating his own version of the resolution. So what we’ve really got at the moment in the “world’s greatest deliberative body” is a bizarre fight over the language of the resolution:

Senate Republicans and Democrats are in an intense battle over the contents of a resolution to honor former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died last week and will be laid to rest on Wednesday.

The fight has prompted Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to stop working together on a resolution, at least for now. As of Tuesday, both senators were offering different alternatives for language to honor Thatcher.

The fight marks a departure from how such resolutions are normally written and approved, and as of Tuesday left open the question of whether the Senate would be able to approve language from Menendez, McConnell, or some other alternative.

According to Democratic aides, the two senators were working together on language late last week, when Menendez made suggestions about a proposal from McConnell. These aides say Menendez was looking to remove language that could have been seen as “swipes” against other countries, and proposed those changes to McConnell.

A Republican aide said Menendez appeared to be trying to whittle down the resolution to “name, rank, serial number” — in other words, a bare-bones description of Thatcher’s tenure as prime minister. A GOP aide said that among other things, Menendez was looking to eliminate references to the Falkland Islands dispute, and her support for the U.S. deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe.

“The Democratic resolution attempts to black out history,” the GOP aide said.

By late last week, there were reports that Menendez was “blocking” McConnell’s resolution. Specifically, GOP aides said an attempt was made to “hotline” the resolution, which is the process by which each Senate office is asked if they have an objection to quickly move a measure.

According to GOP aides, Senate Republicans hotlined the resolution, and one aide said Democrats hotlined it as well when Menendez objected.

But Democratic aides say they are not aware of any formal attempt to bring McConnell’s language to the Senate floor, and that they thought they were still engaged in an effort to negotiate a final resolution. They also said they never heard back from McConnell’s office about their suggested changes, and were “surprised” to read accounts that Menendez was blocking the resolution formally.

Honestly, I don’t even care what each version of the resolution says.  Yea, it’s probably true that such a resolution should be more than a “bare bones” restatement of the facts of a person’s life, but I also don’t know that it’s necessary to list absolutely every event in their life either. It really doesn’t matter to me.  If these people can’t even come to an agreement about how to honor a dead friend of the United States, then what good are any of them?

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. wr says:

    The good news is that as soon as the NRA tells them how to vote on this, they’ll all fall in line.

  2. Mikey says:

    Senators Engaged In Incredibly Dumb Fight

    That’s all the title you need to supply OTB with posts until the sun runs out of hydrogen.

  3. greg says:

    To think these clowns are going to agree to get anything done for the foreseeable future is a joke. This is just further proof.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    So we’ve solved all the other problems afflicting the US, right?

    (I swear, if I ever become a Congresscritter, I will run on a platform of never proposing silly legislation like this and voting against any of it that is offered.)

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Menendez was looking to eliminate references to the Falkland Islands dispute, and her support for the U.S. deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe.

    Of course it could just be that the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee would prefer to avoid pissing off Argentina and Russia for no reason except McConnell’s desire to score a couple of conservative brownie points.

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Seems like an easy dispute to resolve. How about something along these lines:

    The Senate hereby resolves to honor the life and public service of the former Prime Minister of Britain, The Baroness Margaret Thatcher, for her steadfast resolve against communism abroad and quasi-communism at home, her support of individual liberties and freedoms in the former Soviet puppet states of Eastern Europe, which broke the shackles of Soviet domination and thereby attained their freedoms during her reign as Prime Minister, after four decades of brutal Soviet repressions and privations, and her unwavering friendship and support of the United States of America, during which time the virus of worldwide expansionist communism was defeated, without firing a single shot, and the Western developed economies recovered from the stagflation disaster of the 1970’s to post nearly a full decade of robust macro growth along with robust job growth, income growth and household equity growth.

    Stupid, trollish portion of comment deleted by the editor.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: I suspect Russia could care less. It was Germany, France, and much of the rest of Western Europe that was leery of putting Pershing IIs on their soil.

  8. al-Ameda says:

    Obviously some people care too much about these ceremonial resolutions.