Republican Amnesia: The Filibuster


Republicans have been celebrating their victory in the midterm elections by making some pretty outlandish commitments.  The notion that they would need to work with the President to effectively govern lasted all of a day and has since been replaced by the same-old-same-old GOP strategy of “stopping Obama” at every turn.

The official GOP press conference to discuss the election results was held in typical fashion:  Podium, American flag, high-profile politicians and strategists and of course the big red screen that read “Stop Obama, Fire Reid.”

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Touting their victories as “the will of the people” and not a collection of red states with senate seats up for grabs,  Republicans have a tough row to hoe to convince America that they actually have the ability to govern.  Their first order of business?  Why, repealing the ACA, of course.

Remember Newtown and the Gun Safety bill?

The tragic deaths of elementary school children and the brave teachers who tried to save them broke our hearts and weighed heavily on our souls.  The only good thing to come out of it was the common sense gun safety bill that would have required universal background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, people on the terrorist watch list and those deemed a threat to themselves or others by a physician.

Polls indicated that up to 91% of Americans, including a huge percentage of NRA members, were in favor of the bill.  Many Americans who don’t follow politics were introduced to a senate rule enacted in 1907 and amended in 1975 that allows the minority party in the senate, in this case Republicans, to kill a bill without it ever being voted on.  The filibuster.

The 1975 amendment to the rule requires a 3/5th majority, or sixty votes under normal circumstances, to bring cloture to debate and move a bill to a vote.  Effectively a bill that 91% of Americans agreed with was killed by a minority in the senate acting in the interests of bottom line profits for gun manufacturers and the campaign contributions they dole out.

Republicans filibuster the middle class.

It’s not just gun safety that Republicans have filibustered.  Some of the most pressing issues to income equality and the middle class have been shot down by the senate minority:

  • Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act
  • Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act
  • DREAM Act of 2010
  • Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act of 2011
  • Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act
  • Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012
  • Paycheck Fairness Act
  • Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act
  • Bring Jobs Home Act
  • Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013

Equal pay for women, affordable student loans, keeping jobs here, making the wealthy pay the same tax rate as the middle class, helping senior citizens, teachers and first responders, you name it, if it was for the good of the people at the expense of the wealthy the Republicans killed it.  Now they’re touting their majority as all-knowing and all-powerful.

Sorry Republicans. You can’t have it both ways.

Democrats can still save us from horrible legislation.

The lame duck congress we’re about to experience will undoubtedly show the American people who they stand for.  The first thing we can expect is the repeal of Obamacare.  It’s a waste of time, of course, because any such bill would certainly be met by the President with a veto.  He really doesn’t need to worry about wasting ink since the Republicans don’t have the sixty votes they need to send it to his desk.

We can expect to see tax cuts for the rich, more subsidies for big oil, deep cuts to public assistance and more unnecessary increases in military spending filibustered.  The obvious difference will be bills killed for the good of the people by democrats versus bills killed for the good of Wall Street, oil companies and corporate cronies by Republicans.  Consider that if you’re one of the people who considers both parties to be equally nefarious when it comes to policy.

Can the filibuster rule be changed?

The Supreme Court in 1892 declared that rule changes in the senate require only a simple majority.  Interestingly enough, a rule enacted about rules requires rules to have a 2/3rd majority for the rule to change.  What does that mean?  You can rule out rule changes anytime soon.

The filibuster, used for years by the senate minority to block an estimated 500 bills for no reason other than the promise to obstruct the President, will soon become the people’s best friend.

Image: Politico.com

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