The Democrats' second ranking senator on Thursday bemoaned Republicans' attempts to stall and derail the Democratic agenda, saying they had been able to cast protest votes "with impunity" and positing that Republican tactics were almost treasonous.


Speaking to reporters, including one at The Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said his party's members would face public wrath if they used Republicans' Senate tactics.

"Some of the votes [Republicans] cast -- we would be on trial for treason if we had voted against defense appropriations in the midst of a war," he told reporters on his way to the Senate chamber. Durbin was referring to GOP members who tried to block the defense bill out of concern that a hate crimes bill was attached to it.

"They did it with impunity," Durbin lamented.

But Durbin on Thursday [said] the idea that Democrats ought to let legislation fail in order to prove that Republicans are to blame for stalled reforms [was unwise].

"If we don't have 59 votes, and that is a requirement [to pass legislation], we're not letting them fail," Durbin said, suggesting it was not Democrats who were responsible for any delays.

Durbin is the party's Democratic whip, responsible for corralling votes on important legislative issues.

Democrats are in political hot water after losing a sixtieth vote in the Senate which has prevented them from moving forward on health care reform legislation.