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July 11, 2007

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Funny how the Republicans can go straight from chanting "Nuclear option!" and "Up or down vote!" to fillibustering everything. You'd think they'd at least get whiplash. And darn that liberal media for... um... Wait. Damn the lazy ass sycophant media we have that doesn't bother to read their own damn archives.

At the same time, however, they are using those rules in a way that is unprecedented.

i'll analogize it again: the Dems are playing with last season's rules. they're are hopeless. they're still playing defense. they didn't learn a damned thing over the last four years.

and you're right, they need to make the Reps actually stand up and do the filibuster - they need to start playing hardball. now's the time, the time is now. start using the rulebook as a bludgeon, not as a sacred text. throw courtesy under the bus, its days are over.

i agree with them "let them talk" point. especially on something like the webb bill. the judge thing didn't work b/c, minority intensity aside, the public doesn't really care about judges.

This though would be favorable terrain to make a clear -- and substantive -- contrast.


“The question on this amendment is not whether you support this war or whether you do not. It is not whether you want to wait until July or September to see where one particular set of benchmarks or summaries might be taking us. The question is this: more than four years into ground operations in Iraq, we owe stability, and a reasonable cycle of deployment, to the men and women who are carrying our nation’s burden. That is the question. And that is the purpose of this amendment.”

That isn't exactly true. That bill is about supporting the war. As was keenly pointed out a couple of days ago there is a broken army clock. To the best of my knowledge (and I am speaking in no way in an official capacity) I don't think the war is even fightable.

The concept of deployed a year off a year for active duty and deployed a year off for three for the reserve component is based on the numbers if we were at a full strength Army (after increasing size by several brigades).

Hitting those goals is even harder when you
fall short of your recruiting goals
.

The ultimate check and balance is the people.

Either they care about this stuff enough to do something, or they don't.

If they don't, then we get what we deserve.

i'll analogize it again: the Dems are playing with last season's rules. they're are hopeless. they're still playing defense. they didn't learn a damned thing over the last four years.

Well, it's like Cheney said: they won, they created their own reality. And we still can't really find the door back out.

How many votes does it take to expel a member of Congress?

2/3s, dang.

Has anybody done a blog post actually counting the percentage of bills that the Democrats and Republicans have been filibustering? That could add a lot to the argument.

Also, is "refusing to let it go to conference" the same as a filibuster? Do you need to pass the 60-vote test once to close debate and again to send the bill to conference?

When the Republicans were in the majority, one of their new tricks was not letting any Democrats onto the conference committee of some bills. I don't suggest going that far, but given that the Republicans were able to form conference committees excluding Democrats, can't Harry Reid and Nancy Polosi simply name only Dems to the committees if the Republicans refuse to fill the seats offered them?

Also, I agree wholeheartedly with Hilzoy's suggestion, time to withdraw the courtesy. If they want to filibuster, force them to stand up and talk until the session of congress ends.

Noumenon (or anyone),

How would one compile such a list? Just news reports? or can I look on Thomas or something like that to pull the data?

I just wonder if all of the obstructionism is getting reported. There's not one story on CNN or the Times today about this (online).

Sujal

What's fascinating is that the national narrative while Republicans are in power is that Democrats were 'obstructionists' for even considering things like filibusters. Now that people voted Democrats into power, and Republicans are resorting to things like cloture votes to prevent full congressional votes on Democrat-sponsored bills, what's the generally accepted narrative?

Democrats breaking their promises, of course.

This is the thing that makes me scratch my head when folks talk about the liberal media. If they're so liberal, why the weirdly distorted double standard?

I just wonder if all of the obstructionism is getting reported. There's not one story on CNN or the Times today about this (online).
The media, for the most part, rolls with whatever story fits the prevailing narrative. And for better or worse, Republicans have managed to wrestle control of that narrative to the right. Actual events don't matter -- they're wearing white hats and the Democrats are wearing black, and everyone knows what that means.

I didn't understand it in the judges case and I don't understand it here. If you want to complain about how obstructionist a filibuster is.....make them actually filibuster. If you had to look stupid every time you used it, it wouldn't get used so much.

The Dems have yet to relocate the "pair" that got snipped off them when the GOP wrested control of Congress away in 1994. There are a few, new renegades, but current leadership is spineless and damn near clueless. Entrenched power elite that they are, the prerogative is holding power, not necessarily using it toward some greater purpose.

I've tried three times to provide info relevant to Noumenon's question, and none of it has posted, so am testing to see if I can post without links.

Okaaaay.

From the Senate Dem Caucus Journal ("Harry Reid's blog"):
----
Senate Republicans have obstructed almost every bill in the Senate – even ones with wide bipartisan support.
So far, in the first half of the first session of the 110th Congress, there have been THIRTEEN cloture votes on motions to proceed – each one wasting days of Senate time. (110th Congress, Roll Call Votes #44, 51, 53, 74, 129, 132, 133, 162, 173, 207, 208, 227, and 228)
In comparison, in the first sessions of the 108th and 109th Congresses combined, there were a total of FOUR cloture votes on motions to proceed.
EIGHT times Republican obstruction tactics slowed critical legislation

Fulfilling the 9/11 Commission Recommendations (Passed 97-0, Roll Call Vote #53)
Improving security at our courts (Passed 93-3, Roll Call Vote #133)
Water Resources Development Act (Passed 89-7, Roll Call Vote #162)
A joint resolution to revise U.S. policy in Iraq (Passed 89-9, Roll Call Vote, #74)
Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Passed 69-23, Roll Call Vote #173)
Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Passed 64-35, Roll Call Vote #228)
CLEAN Energy Act (Passed 91-0, Roll Call Vote #208)
Funding for the Intelligence Community (Passed 94-3, Roll Call Vote #129)
FOUR times Republicans blocked legislation from being debated

Senate Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage. (54-43, Roll Call Vote #23)
Senate Republicans blocked ethics reforms (Rejected 51-46, Roll Call Vote #16)
Senate Republicans blocked comprehensive immigration reform (Rejected 45-50, Roll Call Vote #206)
Senate Republicans blocked funding for renewable energy (Rejected 57-36, Roll Call Vote #223)
FOUR times Republicans stopped bills from reaching a vote

Senate Republicans blocked funding for the intelligence community. (Rejected 41-40, Roll Call Vote #130)
Senate Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage. (54-43, Roll Call Vote #23)
Senate Republicans blocked ethics reforms (Rejected 51-46, Roll Call Vote #16)
Senate Republicans blocked funding for renewable energy (Rejected 57-36, Roll Call Vote #223)
TWICE Republicans blocked bills from going to conference

Senate Republicans blocked appointing conferees on the 9/11 Commission Recommendations (6/26/07)
Senate Republicans blocked appointing conferees on ethics reform (6/26/07)

----

I didn't spot it in this list, but it's my understanding that the bill to require the government to negotiate Medicare drug prices with the pharmacos was also failed on a cloture vote (that is, there were a majority of Senators in favor of the bill but not 60).

One reason the Republican obstruction has been so easy is that they haven't been forced into a real filibuster. It's time to pick the most popular and/or nationally urgent of the stalled bills and bring it back to the floor and make the Republicans obstruct in an obvious, in-the-sunlight way.

If Bob Borosage, Steve Benen, and Sebastian agree on something, it's got to be the way to go, eh?

Nell - you need to stop posting that as you are turning me into McManus.

If Bob Borosage, Steve Benen, and Sebastian agree on something, it's got to be the way to go, eh>

That?

(Have I posted something similar recently?)

I miss Bob. Maybe you could indulge your McManus-ness for a bit on this obstruction theme...?


So there are three times more cloture votes than before (13 vs 4). Nell's link says they are doing this to slow down the proceedings. I thought the Democrats got to set the Senate's schedule now? Maybe they are forcing the Republicans to actually vote down cloture so they can call them obstructionist, like you want them to do. Maybe in the last Congress, the Dems would just say, "We'll filibuster if you do that," and then the Republicans wouldn't bother trying? I remember Bush sneaking through some judge nominations to avoid filibusters.

There were only four actual filibusters -- prevented from coming to a vote. That doesn't seem like that many. There were also four votes that prevented legislation from even being debated. That's not a filibuster, is it? Filibusters are extending the debate period indefinitely, not preventing debate.

Why don't the instances of preventing bills from going to conference have a vote total? What do you have to do to block a bill this way? From Hilzoy's links (thanks a lot for those), it looks like the Senate Minority Leader can just say, "I won't name conferees for this bill unless you guarantee that the bill will include a provision allowing pigs to fly in civilian airspace," and the bill is stopped. Is that fair? Is that something Harry Reid could have been doing last term but didn't figure out/wouldn't stoop to?

My original post was about context. Ideally you could say, "The Republicans are blocking X% of all the bills we try to pass." I used this Thomas feature and got a total of 1763 passed bills, but that can't be the right context since I'm sure most of them are not comparable in importance to the 22 bills that were delayed or blocked. Plus I may be totally misusing Thomas. But I'm not able to really see in context, what is the size of the problem.

It seems to me that Reid is being outplayed in a lot of these situations. I am not blaming him for the Republican maneuvers. He doesn't have a strong majority to work with (i.e. for him to claim a majority is for him to rely on Lieberman as a D, which is suspicious at best), and so he is not able to ram things through the way he might as the majority leader with a few more seats. But he is consistently being outplayed in the blodd sport of politics, and someone needs to step up and start playing this game a little better. I'm not saying it can't be Reid, but he is not getting the job done so far, that's for sure.

Yet oddly enough, now that Republicans are in office, and using the filibuster with wild abandon, there don't seem to be the same cries of alarm.

Err, don't you mean "now that Republicans are in the minority?"

Otherwise, great stuff.

Hey Charles, if you're still reading ObWi: how do you like them Party of No?

Tell me, is it obstruction when the Democrats require a 60 vote majority on the "John Doe" amendment, and it dies despite a 57-39 vote majority? Or does obstruction only apply to Republicans?

People: There are only two realistic possibilities here. And all this talk of cowardice might be obscuring a more grimly reality. If the Democrats are not pushing and making them actually filibuster, there really are only two candidate explanations.

(1) They do not actually want these bills passed, which could be a possibility. Maybe they prefer this political theater and think they can score points against the Republicans as obstructionists.

(2) They are afraid of escalating owing to some greater threat. What could that be? Well, the only thing I can think of is Joe Lieberman. He keeps threatening to switch sides. Maybe Joe is holding a gun to Reid's head.

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