Sen. Burr Was The Objecter Who Forced Committee Hearings Off Schedule (VIDEO)

March 25, 2010 7:04 a.m.

We told you yesterday about the latest slowdown in the Senate – a Republican senator using one of the Senate’s little-known rules to object to holding committee hearings during certain hours. Turns out it was Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), one of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers.

Burr took to the floor around lunch to declare he had “no personal objection to continuing” but there was an objection from Republicans.

Yesterday GOP aides told us it was not a coordinated leadership effort.

It’s a bit complicated, but Burr was objecting to a standard unanimous consent request from Sen. Carl Levin to hold a hearing outside of the hours the Senate rules allow. This happens all the day, and senators agree to waive the rule that says committee hearings can’t be held until two hours after convening business, or after 2 p.m.Burr’s hometown paper displayed a story about the holdup on the front page today.

From the Charlotte Observer’s piece:

With a few words Wednesday – “I would have to object” – N.C. Sen. Richard Burr joined an angry Republican pushback to the nation’s sweeping health care overhaul.

Burr used a parliamentary maneuver to derail an Armed Services Committee hearing for which commanders had traveled from South Korea and Hawaii to discuss the Pentagon’s needs for the next year.

It was one of several hearings on issues ranging from homeless veterans to police trainers in Afghanistan that were upturned by Republican tactics to slow the workings of the Senate.

That was Sen. Claire McCaskill’s hearing, and she took to the floor yesterday to tear into what she called a “new low” in obstructionism.

Late Update: Our video team tracked down the moment on the Senate floor. Watch:

Later Update: A keyed-in Senate source points out that Democrats were aware of a general Republican objection before Burr took to the floor, which suggests that as he says in this clip, it isn’t really his beef.

But that leaves the question about why Republicans wouldn’t come forward as a caucus and explain why they wanted the hearings delayed or postponed to begin with. We’ve asked leadership and they say they aren’t behind it. But it’s obviously not all Burr. If you work on the Hill and have the scoop, let us know.

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