Saturday, July 21, 2007

Republicans Create Congressional Constipation

By Cernig

One of the favorite current conservative memes is that the current congressional session is the worst ever "do nothing" Congress.

What they don't want to talk about is why that's the case.
Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.

Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate.

This year Republicans also have blocked votes on immigration legislation, a no-confidence resolution for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and major legislation dealing with energy, labor rights and prescription drugs.

Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.
Back when the GOP were moaning about Dem filibusters, Frist threatened the "nuclear option". The argument against the Dems doing the same - and it's a compelling one - is that they would then be hypocrites as they spoke out against that threat at the time. So they have to put this truth on everyone's lips. Republican obstructionism should be a key point for every Democratic spokesperson. Make them actually fillibuster every single one - it won't be long before people realise that the "do nothing" is because of the GOP. Link it to Bush's contempt for oversight too, because it comes from the same underlying thinking - "if the right can't decide for the nation, then no-one can." The contemptuous condescension inherent in the current Republican mindset has to be driven home, with a piledriver, before 2008.

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