Breakdown in relations hinders Senate effectiveness
Lawmakers of both parties say courtesy has hit a low ebb
By Carl Hulse
New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON — Arlen Specter is a senior U.S. senator who expects to be allowed his say on the Senate floor. So he bristled when Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, brusquely cut him off at the end of the Iraq debate.
"The leadership is setting a dictatorial tone," Specter, R-Pa., said Thursday, still furious over his treatment the day before. "Senators didn't get here to be pushed around."
It may seem small-minded to bicker over a few words at the end of a 24-hour debate. But the clash between the two veteran senators is evidence of a larger breakdown in relations in the Senate, a deterioration in cooperation that is hobbling the Senate's ability to get things done. The situation is not likely to improve with a presidential election on the horizon.
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