National Journal: Johnson Says He Will Block Senate Business

Freshman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said on Tuesday that he will object to all unanimous consent requests until Senate Democratic leaders assure that they will allow public debate on a budget resolution.

“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,” Johnson said in a floor speech. “I will begin to withhold my consent.”

The Senate conducts much of its routine business by unanimous consent agreements that all senators agree to. Each day it is in session, the chamber uses such deals to allow committees to meet, pass minor bills, and advance nominations, among other more mundane steps.

By objecting, Johnson would stall much of that action, putting a blanket hold on routine steps. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could force cloture votes on motions to move noncontroversial measures, but that would consume excessive time. Johnson made his first objection to a routine step on Tuesday afternoon, refusing to agree to relinquish a quorum call, which is almost always done by unanimous consent.

In a speech decrying “business as usual” in Washington, Johnson did not say exactly what he is demanding. He complained that Senate Democrats have not offered a fiscal 2012 budget and that talks on deficit reduction and raising the federal debt ceiling involve “a few people talking behind closed doors.”

An aide said Johnson is focused on the fiscal 2012 budget. “Senator Johnson wants the Democrats to offer a budget and have it debated out in the open,” the aide said.

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