Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Filibuster follies

There were three important votes in the Senate today. Each one garnered a clear majority of senators. The bill to give the half million residents of the District of Columbia representation in Congress had the support of 57 senators. A bill to restore habeus corpus rights had the support of 56 senators and so did a bill to provide our troops with an equal amount of downtime with their families as they spend on active duty in Iraq had the support of 56 senators.
But in each case the legislation failed to pass. Why? Because Republicans are filibustering everything under the sun.
As Kevin Drum shows here, the GOP is obstructing legislation at three times the normal rate and are on pace to set an all time record on filibuster usage this term. The same Republicans who were ready to eliminate the filibuster when Democrats used it to block a small handful of the hundred-plus judges that Bush nominated to the federal courts, are now embracing the filibuster with all their might and using it to block every single action in the Senate.
This is an abuse of our democratic process by a party that has lost the support of the American people. One more election, however, and they won’t have the filibuster or the veto to fall back on. The 2008 election will be a bloodbath for Republicans and while I will be happy to see it and believe it is well deserved, I’m also wary of having absolutely no checks and balances in place. As much as I support the Democratic agenda, I still think it is necessary to have a functional and coherent opposition party to keep the other side from overreaching as the Republicans have clearly done recently.

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