Why the Senate keeps holding votes on bills everyone knows will not pass

Refusing to give into the Republicans’ terms for the lame-duck session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working to score a few last minute political points against the GOP before holding a vote on the Bush-era tax rate extension, and he’s doing a very good job of it.

Reid brought a bill to the floor Thursday that would provide $7.4 billion in medical services to first responders who suffer ailments from their rescue efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Republicans, keeping with their vow to filibuster any legislation until the tax cut deal is in place and the government is securely funded into the next year, blocked it.

It’s just the latest example of the majority leadership’s decision to hold cloture votes they know will not pass, which gives Democrats fuel to blast the GOP for seemingly standing in the way of perfectly uncontroversial bills.

The vote on health care for firefighters prompted Reid to release a statement moments later entitled, “Republicans putting CEOS ahead of 9/11 as heroes speaks volumes about their priorities.”

“Republicans denied adequate health care to the heroes who developed illnesses from rushing into burning buildings on 9/11,” Reid said in the statement. “Yet they will stop at nothing to give tax breaks to millionaires and CEOs, even though they will explode our deficit and fail to create jobs. That tells you everything you need to know about their priorities.”

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez called Republicans “Shameless!” on the Senate floor, which made the headline of an ABC News report about the vote.

See how that works?

Last weekend, Reid called the Senate to a special Saturday session to hold two votes: one that would extend the Bush-era tax rates for households earning less than $250,000 annually and another that lifted the threshold to $1 million. As expected, both failed.

The move puts the Senate not an inch closer to stopping the impending tax hikes, but now Republicans are on the record voting against health care for 9/11 victims and tax cuts for the middle class.

Those who do not obsessively follow political news, which includes most Americans, will be shocked.

Those who do have a finger on the Beltway’s pulse, however, know all too well this is just another day in Washington.

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