Senate GOP Friday Night Obstruction Fails Hilariously

Sen. Chris Holbert (R).

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver and Nic Garcia report, last night’s attempt by Colorado Senate Republicans to procedurally obstruct legislation from passing that chamber, continuing a campaign of obstruction from the Senate GOP minority that began with a demand to read a 2,000-page technical cleanup bill into the record and continued yesterday with Republicans ordering more bills read at length and endless ad nauseum speechifying by GOP caucus members…didn’t end off the way Republicans were hoping:

The debate over House Bill 1177 ran nearly 12 hours, but the vote came down as expected, with Republicans opposing the extreme risk protection order or “red flag” bill and Democrats supporting it.

The voice vote at about 7:30 p.m. was only the beginning of the drama on the Senate floor, as Republicans triggered a procedure to continue debate, keeping senators at work…

And that’s where the tables turned on Republicans, who thought they had gummed up the works yet again:

At about 9 p.m., Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo asked for all senators to return to the chamber. That triggered a search by the state Highway Patrol to find five Republican senators who had left the building hours earlier. [Pols emphasis] According to a GOP Senate spokesperson, two were on their way to the Western Slope and at least one had left the state altogether.

As it turns out, gentle reader, if you’re trying to force endless debate into late in the night on a Friday and a third of your caucus bails on you without permission, your protest loses its intended effect! Not to mention that Senate President Leroy Garcia can and apparently did send armed State Patrol to cart your wayward caucus members back to the Senate chamber. In a late-night session forced by the same GOP minority, this was a moment of absurdity that no Democrat could have better engineered.

Ultimately, party leaders brokered a deal to proceed with debate and end the search for the absent senators — Don Coram, Ray Scott, Kevin Priola, Jim Smallwood and Larry Crowder — but mark them absent during debate on a bill that their party sees as a top-priority Second Amendment issue.

In the end, the “red flag” bill passed second reading and Senators went home around 10:00PM last night. Whether this embarrassing episode results in a check on the Senate GOP’s “slowdown” campaign when the body reconvenes on Monday is anybody’s guess, but whatever message victory Republicans were hoping to achieve with yesterday’s no-doubt exhausting effort was squandered–by five Republican Senators who decided beating the traffic out of town was more important than Minority Leader Chris Holbert’s no-win pissing match with the majority.

It’s not the message Republicans wanted to send, but it says a mouthful.

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  1. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    If these bills are so important that they need to be read, and you're willing to go to court to protect that right, your folks had better all be in chambers and ready to wait until the reading is done.  Call the senate every time a reading is requested.

  2. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    Here's hoping a variety of these maneuvers will be analyzed and the procedural rules will be improved.  Or that the majority will become better at parliamentary procedure to make things run efficiently when there is a clear and certain outcome.

  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Don't mess with the Marine! GOP Senators found out that Senate President Leroy Garcia takes duty seriously.

  4. doremi says:

    I was there during the whole day for the Extreme Risk bill.  What I found is Extreme Arrogance on the part of the Republican senators.  They elected to read the journal (50 minutes), the bill (another 30 minutes) and bloviate ad nauseum.  Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) rambled on for well over 2 hours. Even though the Republicans chose to delay the start of their colleagues' weekends, one third of their caucus sneaked out.

    Citizens in the gallery observed this nonsense, Democratic senators had to put up with it, but the very persons inflicting it chose to escape. It should not go unscathed. Those who skedaddled had been proclaiming wildly that they were opposing the Extreme Risk bill for their constituents, but, alas, they were absent for the vote. 

  5. RepealAndReplace says:

    Holbert really could use to lose a few pounds….

    That pot belly! Isn't he concerned that he could be down on patrol in the Rio Grande Valley with the rest of his Gun Nut Posse when he sees a couple of 20-ish year old men with calves the size of cantaloupes and needs to take off in hot pursuit? 

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