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?