The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Bring Boring Back

In the wake of the Senate’s failure to pass the bailout for the Big Three automakers due to a threatened Republican filibuster, I’d like to expand on an

Thomas Dixon
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Dec 12, 2008

In the wake of the Senate’s failure to pass the bailout for the “Big Three” automakers due to a threatened Republican filibuster, I’d like to expand on an excellent point made by Josh Marshall over at TPM.

What I do think makes sense is for the majority to actually require the minority to filibuster — as in talk and talk and talk. We’ve arrived at a point in which it’s become standard, even in the most contentious of cases, for the minority to be allowed merely to signal the intention to filibuster rather than doing the actual thing itself. Filibustering is a tool of obstruction. It’s a critical right of the minority in the senate. But it is, by definition, obstruction. So it makes sense to put the obstructionists to their task, make them do it publicly. I don’t know why the Democrats are not doing that in this case.

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/12/filibuster-chart-100708-164x300.jpgSenate Cloture Votes (97th - 110th Congress) *courtesy of Campaign for America

I couldn’t agree more. As the bar graph at right (courtesy of Campaign for America’s Future) clearly shows, the Republican legislative strategy since slipping into the minority in 2006 has been obstruction. Republican senators threatened a filibuster and forced a cloture vote more than 100 times and counting during the current 110th Congress — breaking the previous record of 62 filibusters in a two-year legislative session in less than one year. Is it any surprise that Congress’ approval rating fell, as Sen. John McCain liked to say on the campaign trail, to just nine percent, and the Republicans subsequently took a walloping at the polls last month.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the Republicans out on their threat and forced a traditional all-night “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”-type filibuster only once during the current session, on a proposed amendment to a 2007 defense authorization bill that would have mandated the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. In many cases, the mere threat of a filibuster was enough to effectively kill a piece of legislation.

If Reid forced the Republicans to actually go through with all, or at least some, threatened filibusters, chances are pretty good we’d see a lot less of them. GOP leaders might pick and choose their battles a bit more strategically if they knew there’s a good chance they’d have to make good on their promises and stay up all night.

Of course, it would suck for the Democrats as well, as nobody likes to stay up all night to listen to politicians ramble on and on, but do it a few times on key issues just to show you mean business. With Democrats holding 58 or 59 Senate seats, a few real filibusters with the threat of more might be enough to wear down one or two moderate Republicans and separate them from the pack once in a while.

At the very least, it would be a symbolic gesture that would let the American people see clearly why its so difficult to pass legislation, and who is responsible for gumming up the works — and might help solidify a 60-seat filibuster-proof super-majority in 2010.

Thomas Dixon | He creates the ideal marketing experience by connecting online brands with their target audiences. He recently completed a research paper on consumer conversion and took part in a community project on SEO optimization. Thomas is working on his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and plans to intern in an online marketing department soon.

Related

$1.89 billion given to states to fight HIV

The federal government Monday announced more than $1.89 billion in funding to states to fight the HIV epidemic with access to care and with more cash for the failing AIDS Drug Assistance Program. According to an HHS press release , $813 million of that money will go directly to the ADAP programming. An additional $8,386,340 will be issued as a supplement to 36 states and territories currently facing a litany of unmet needs and access issues.

Army Data Shows Constraints on Troop Increase Potential

If President Obama orders an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, he will be deploying practically every available U.S. Army brigade to war, leaving few units in reserve in case of an unforeseen emergency and further stressing a force that has seen repeated combat deployments since 2002.

1. Brian Schweitzer

As governor of Montana, Schweitzer doesn’t represent one of the most highly populated, high-profile electoral states in the country. But this

$1.3 Million for Brown

The GOP’s candidate in the Massachusetts special election raised more than one million dollars -- double the goal -- in a 24-hour moneybomb on the Ron Paul

$1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for, report finds

Despite calls for independent bodies to keep government accountable, the Sunlight Foundation’s most recent Clearspending report has found the federal

#1 in Conspiracy Theories

Andrew Young’s tell-all biography of John Edwards, hitting shelves next week, is surging in one Amazon.com category in particular. #1 in Conspiracy

1 Brigade and 1 Battalion

ISTANBUL – It’s 10 p.m. in the lowest level of the Istanbul airport. In 20 minutes I’ll be allowed to board my plane to Kabul, bringing me to the

$1 Million for Toomey

Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president and leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Senate race, has announced a $1 million haul in the

1. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Graham (R-S.C.) is typically regarded as a reliable vote for his party, but he took the bold step of breaking with his fellow Republicans to join Kerry

Bachmann uncomfortable over earmarks ban

Republicans appear to have boxed themselves into a corner with their portrayal of earmarks as wasteful spending, as many of them have backed a moratorium on

Troubled mine holds hope for U.S. rare earth industry

China currently controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth production. The Mountain Pass Mine could change that -- if it can overcome serious environmental concerns.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com