I’ve been doing this long enough to remember back when filibustering was a tactic designed to obstruct the proper business of the Senate, a controversial Democratic practice that raised serious constitutional questions.
Luckily, we’ve evolved to the point where it’s everyone’s fault.
The Senate went home yesterday for the Fourth of July holiday to face voters, having failed repeatedly to address critical economic issues from skyrocketing gas prices to climate change to the nation’s housing crisis.
Leaders in both parties have vowed to tackle those problems. Yet the Senate has been unable to move forward even when there is broad agreement about what to do.
With each side using the Senate’s byzantine rules to gain advantage, work in the upper chamber, always balky, has ground to a halt.
What sort of maneuvers have each side used?
- Republican senators have filibustered to keep a Medicare bill from going forward.
- Harry Reid has prohibited 13 Republican amendments*…while Republican Senator John Ensign has thrown an amendment on the housing bill that’s crippled the bill’s passage.
- The Republican minority leader has forced a 452-page bill to be read aloud, delaying a vote on the bill for days, even weeks.
As you can see, this is a heavily bipartisan problem that’s everyone’s fault. No sense assigning blame to any one side over the other here.
*UPDATE: Reid’s blocking amendments like Ensign’s that are designed to purposefully stop legislation in its tracks. In other words, he’s not holding up legislation, he’s trying to push it through.