Friday, January 25, 2013
Dems Surrender To GOP On Filibuster
As we all know, the United States Senate has been in a state of gridlock for the last few years. Although the Democrats had a majority in that legislative body, they have been unable to even get their bills to the Senate floor, let alone to a vote. This is because of the Republicans abuse of the filibuster. They have chosen to filibuster nearly every single bill, making it impossible to pass any bill without a super-majority of 60 votes (the number required to end a filibuster).
This was never the intention of the Founding Fathers, who never included a filibuster option in the Constitution. They wanted Senate bills to be decided by a majority vote -- not a super-majority. The filibuster is a rule passed by the senators themselves, and could have been changed by senators when considering rules at the beginning of the 113th Congress. And for a while, it looked like real change might come -- a change that would prevent the Republicans from obstructing anything the Democrats tried to do.
We even heard tough talk from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). He said there would be significant change in the filibuster in this new Congress, and even threatened to use the so-called "nuclear option" (changing the rules with a simple majority of 51 votes) to get the needed change. But the Majority Leader was lying. There were good proposals for changing the filibuster rule from Senators Harkin (D-Iowa) and Merkley (D-Oregon), but Reid did not push for the adoption of either of these excellent proposals -- instead opting to accept a "compromise" (surrender) proposal.
That "compromise" made very little change to the rules. It does allow some minor appointments to be dealt with more quickly, and guarantees the Republicans have an opportunity to submit at least two amendments to any bill brought to the floor (which they should have already had the right to do) -- but it doesn't go much farther. It still allows the Republicans to filibuster (without actually having to keep the floor and do a talking filibuster) any bill they want (and you can bet they'll do that after their amendments are defeated). This "compromise" means it will still require 60 votes to pass any bill in the Senate.
That means there will still be gridlock in the Senate -- and the chance of getting important legislation on job creation, gun restrictions, immigration reform, and other issues is now almost nonexistent. If these bills could pass the Senate, they would go to a conference committee where a compromise might be worked out with the House. But if they are filibustered in the Senate (and required to get 60 votes), then the chance of any compromise resulting in a new law grows much dimmer.
Besides Majority Leader Reid, the other Democratic architects of this surrender to the Republicans are Senators Levin (Michigan), Schumer (New York), Pryor (Arkansas), and Cardin (Maryland). In my opinion, these cowards deserve the scorn of progressives everywhere.