Monday, February 2, 2009

GOP Continues To Say, "It's My Way Or No Way!"

On Face the Nation on Sunday Feb. 1, Mitch McConnell says the GOP is going to require sixty votes for the stimulus bill to pass, but doesn't want to call it a filibuster.

Since the Democrats always allowed cloture votes (stealth filibusters) and never actually made Republicans stand on the Senate floor and publicly filibuster in front of the Senate cameras in the 110th congress, McConnell's "sixty vote" statement is not surprising.

Schieffer: If it came to it, would Republicans filibuster this bill if it was not to your liking?
McConnell: Well that term is thrown around a lot. In the Senate it routinely takes sixty votes to do almost everything. It doesn't necessarily mean you're trying to slow a bill down. But a super-majority is required for virtually everything in the Senate and certainly for something close to a trillion dollars for a spending bill, it will.
It certainly did not routinely takes sixty votes to do almost everything in the Senate during the years Republicans were in the majority and controlled Senate business.

Both Texas’ senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) and John Cornyn (R) have voiced their staunch opposition to Obama's $819 billion stimulus plan. “I read the bill in vain for any real stimulus in the economy,” Cornyn told the Dallas Morning News. Senator Hutchison told the Plano Chamber of Commerce that she could not support President Barack Obama's proposed $825 billion non-stimulus package at a Jan. 23rd luncheon meeting. Both Texas’ senators are positioned to filibuster Obama's economic stimulus package. Hutchison, Cornyn and Republicans as a whole ignor the CBO's report that says 78% of the Stimulus Bill will hit the economy over two years.

Remember when Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate they accused Democrats of being obstructionists for just mentioning the word "filibuster" in response to Republicans pushing very partisan legislation through congress during the Bush Administration years? Ranking Republicans in the G.O.P controlled U.S. Senate, threatened the "nuclear option," against Democrats, which would have eliminated filibustering from congressional rules leaving Democrats with no voice in the Senate - period. The threat worked - Senate Democrats dropped their talk of filibuster allowing Republicans to pass very partisan legislation and confirm extreme right-wing judges, effectively unopposed. Ultimately, this left Democrats with no voice in the Republican controlled Senate anyway!

Republicans were singing a different tune after they became the minority party in the 110th Congress. The number of cloture votes (stealth filibusters) forced by Senate minority Republicans skyrocketed in the 110th Congress following the Democratic takeover of the Senate in Jan. 2007.

So, before Republicans were for using the filibuster, they were against it - A clear flip flop!

The Senate voted on 112 cloture vote motions (stealth filibusters) in the 110th congress controlled by Democrats, exactly double the number (56) of cloture votes in the 109th Congress, when Democrats were in the minority and Republicans were in control. The 110th congress cloture motions were two-and-a-half times as many as the average number of cloture votes (44) over the previous nine Congresses. Of these cloture motions, 51 were rejected, meaning that Republicans succeeded in filibustering an up-or-down vote because at least 41 Republican Senators merely said they would vote against ending debate to allow a floor vote. On the 61 cloture votes to ending debate that passed, defeating the stealth filibuster, Republicans at the very least successfully stalled for time.

With the Republican minority numbers slipping to just 41 Senators for the 111th Congress (assuming Al Franken D-MN is seated) Republicans seem prepared to use the threat of filibuster (cloture vote motions) to stall legislative business. Republicans forced the legislative pendulum to the far right during the Bush years and they are determined to do everything possible to keep it there.

Should the Democrats Change the Senate Filibuster Rule to make it more difficult for Republicans to stall Senate business in the 111t h congress as they did in the 110th congress?

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