Shame on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
Thanks to Senator Jeanne Shaheen's action last week, Granite Staters have had the unfortunate opportunity of experiencing a first row seat to the broken culture of Washington D.C.
On Monday July 15, Senator Jeanne Shaheen was one of only two senators to miss a mandatory "live" quorum meeting. This rarely held meeting was called by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a means to discuss filibuster rule changes that, if implemented, could have had lasting effects on the balance of power between the Executive and Legislative Branches of our federal government.
Attendance to a "live" quorum meeting is so important that it is one of the few circumstances where the Senate can actually direct the sergeant at arms to compel or even arrest senators to bring them to the floor of the Senate to ensure they are present. While one might think arresting a senator to force him or her to attend would be unlikely, it actually happened as recently as 1988 when The Washington Post reported that Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon was "carried feet first into the Senate chamber as Democrats ordered the arrest of absent senators in a dramatic filibuster showdown over a Democratic bill on spending in senatorial campaigns."
While Senator Shaheen requested and received an excused absence from the "live" quorum meeting, Washington insiders and Granite Staters alike began questioning why New Hampshire's senior senator would have missed such an important debate when almost all of the rest of her colleagues were in attendance.
On the evening of the 15th, in response to her absence, Senator Shaheen's office stated to national media outlets that it was due to "a scheduling conflict." When pressed for a further explanation, her staff "refused to elaborate" on why she missed the meeting.
For the rest of the week, even though the Senate reached a compromise on the filibuster rule changes, Senator Shaheen still refused to explain where she was. However, in a stunning move, her nonattendance still didn't stop her from trying to use the "live" quorum she wasn't present for to benefit her own campaign. She actually sent out an email plea to her supporters from "Friends of Jeanne Shaheen" to sign a petition related to "filibuster reform" primarily as a means to collect information that would benefit her re-election campaign.
Groups like Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire continued to pressure Senator Shaheen asking her to explain to Granite Staters what was more important than being in the Senate Chambers on the evening of July 15. Finally, late in the afternoon of Friday, July 19th, the senior senator's office confirmed what many had begun to suspect; Jeanne Shaheen had missed the mandatory meeting to attend a New York fundraiser to benefit her own re-election efforts. Thus, the senator made the decision that she felt it was more important to take actions benefiting her re-election rather than do the job taxpayers are currently paying her to do.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen has been in elected office for over twenty years in New Hampshire. Her refusal to elaborate on why she missed a mandatory meeting on changes that would alter the rule structure of the U.S. Senate is inexcusable. The fact that she would use the quorum that she never attended as a means to boost her own re-election campaign is indefensible. However, for her attend a fundraiser rather than do her job and then refuse to tell Granite Staters the truth until late in the afternoon on a Friday "news dump" to hopefully minimize the effect it might have on her political career is utterly deplorable.
Career politicians like Senator Shaheen might scratch their heads wondering why poll after poll shows Americans distrusting Congress more each day. However, she only has to look at her own actions last week for an answer. Jeanne Shaheen owes New Hampshire an apology and we encourage Granite Staters to contact the senator's office asking her to do so. However, after seeing how she acted last week, we certainly won't hold our breath waiting for it.