The Hill: Sen. Johnson blocks Senate process over lack of budget

The senator says he will continue to object to unanimous consent requests until the Senate takes up a budget plan.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) threw a wrench in the Senate’s cogs, vowing to object to unanimous consent requests until the Democratic leadership assures him that the upper chamber will soon take up a budget plan for fiscal year 2012.

Shortly after making these comments, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) came down to the floor and requested unanimous consent to do-away with the quorum call and make a speech. As promised, Johnson objected, preventing Sessions, a fellow Republican, from speaking.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was seen engaged in an intense discussion on the floor with Johnson shortly after he objected.

“The Senate runs on something called unanimous consent,” said Johnson. “Unless we receive some assurance from the Democrat leadership that we will actually start addressing our budget out in the open, in the bright light of day – I will begin to object. I will begin to withhold my consent.”

The procedural mechanism of unanimous consent to which Johnson referred improves the efficiency of the Senate by allowing circumvention of many arcane and time-consuming rules. If Johnson or any other senator were to begin to object to the many basic unanimous consent requests that pass through the Senate each day, the upper chamber’s ability to legislate could be severely hampered.

“The Senate needs to pass a budget,” continued Johnson. “It shouldn’t be that difficult.”

“Unless there is some assurance that the Senate will take up its budget responsibilities in an open process, I will begin to object,” he said.

Full article.