Biden unwelcome in Senate huddles, where Cheney wielded powerI get it... but...
WASHINGTON — In a move to reassert Congressional independence at the start of the new presidential administration, the vice president will be barred from joining weekly internal Senate deliberations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun.
Reid’s decision to exclude Vice President-elect Joe Biden from the Senate arena where he spent most of his adult life is intended to restore constitutional checks and balances that tilted heavily toward the executive branch during the Bush presidency.
One of the most outward symbols of that power shift in the Bush years has been Vice President Dick Cheney’s attendance at weekly Senate Republican strategy luncheons. Cheney’s access to lawmakers enabled the White House to extend its reach into the legislative branch in ways unmatched in modern presidential history.
Congressional observers say Cheney’s presence helped create an atmosphere in which many Republicans favored party unity above congressional independence from the executive branch — perhaps most forcefully in debates over national security and the Iraq war.
“Cheney would come in there and try to force discipline on the Republican senators,” said Rutgers University Professor Ross Baker, who studies Congress.
“He was the Bigfoot that came into those meetings,” Baker continued. “If someone got out of line, he would put a thumb in their eyes. continued