Senator: Open Budget Talks or I'll Shut Down Senate

Ron Johnson threatens to block chamber's business
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2011 4:18 AM CDT
Updated Jun 29, 2011 5:30 AM CDT
Sen. Ron Johnson addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Newser) – Every senator has the power to bring the chamber's business to a halt, but only freshman Ron Johnson is threatening to use it. The Wisconsin Republican vowed yesterday that he would block "business as usual" in the Senate by withholding his consent for basic procedures unless debt ceiling negotiations were held in the open instead of behind closed doors, reports Politico. "Business as usual is bankrupting America," he complained.

Johnson later backed down and allowed Senate business to proceed after he was allowed to speak for 10 minutes, but said he might revive the threat if the chamber doesn't pass a budget soon. "A single senator can make a mess of the Senate by following through on a threat to object to everything," an expert on Senate procedure tells TPM. "Because so much of the Senate's business is conducted by unanimous consent, the place would grind to a halt if Sen. Johnson actually carried through."

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