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Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GOP FILIBUSTERS....I see that Republicans have successfully filibustered two more bills today: one to give a House seat to the District of Columbia (57-42) and one to restore habeas corpus rights to terrorism suspects (56-43).

That seems like a good excuse to rerun this chart that McClatchy put together a couple of months ago. As you can see, Republicans aren't just obstructing legislation at normal rates. They're obstructing legislation at three times the usual rate. They're absolutely desperate to keep this stuff off the president's desk, where the only choice is to either sign it or else take the blame for a high-profile veto.

As things stand, though, Republicans will largely avoid blame for their tactics. After all, the first story linked above says only that the DC bill "came up short in the Senate" and the second one that the habeas bill "fell short in the Senate." You have to read with a gimlet eye to figure out how the vote actually broke down, and casual readers will come away thinking that the bills failed because of some kind of generic Washington gridlock, not GOP obstructionism.

So, for the record, here are the votes. On the habeas bill, Democrats and Independents voted 50-1 in favor. Republicans voted 42-8 against. On the DC bill, Democrats and Independents voted 49-1 in favor. Republicans voted 41-8 against. Would it really be so hard for reporters to make it clear exactly who's responsible for blocking these bills?

Kevin Drum 2:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (79)

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" Would it really be so hard for reporters to make it clear exactly who's responsible for blocking these bills?"

Apparently, yes.

Posted by: John on September 19, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

The word "'filibuster' seems to have become an archaic term. No doubt its usage will be revived when the democrats try it.

Posted by: fostert on September 19, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

The republics in both the House and Senate are trying to build a defense for '08 claiming the Dems didn't get anything done. Of course, they'll conveniently leave out the fact that THEY were the ones holding everything up time and time again.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on September 19, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Republicans have successfully filibustered two more bills today: one to give a House seat to the District of Columbia (57-42) and one to restore habeas corpus rights to terrorism suspects (56-43).

Um, Kevin, maybe you should read more carefully what actually happened? MSNBC reports on the habeus corpus bill that it was a "56-43 vote against the bill by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa." Fillibuster is not mentioned anywhere in the article.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20871093/

"The Senate narrowly rejected legislation on Wednesday that would have given military detainees the right to protest their detention in federal court. The 56-43 vote against the bill, by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa."

Posted by: Al on September 19, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

And right on cue Al shows how stupid he is.

Posted by: Rob on September 19, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

And makes Kevin's point for him.

Posted by: john on September 19, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Would it really be so hard for reporters to make it clear exactly who's responsible for blocking these bills?

It is if the actual aim of many media outlets is to keep the heat off Republicans.

It doesn't help that the Democratic caucus can't get it together on putting out the message that it's the GOP blocking this stuff. If enough Congressional Dems made a point of saying this at every opportunity, it would be hard for even the Wurlitzer to completely ignore it. Instead, winger talking points about a do-nothing Congress get almost no pushback from Dems.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's been almost 6 years since I have watched a network news program produced by the mainstream corporate military-industrial media complex.

Based on the continued fascist slant of corporate news coverage, and two completely different standards of reporting applied to rescums vs. progressives I have now decided to no longer visit any major US corporate media news web sites. PERIOD.

I will have to turn to international news sites emanating from more advanced democracies - you know... like countries that aren't afraid of the Kyoto Accord or Stem Cell research, and where the courage to actually practice journalism without fear of being called a 'liberal' simply because you are reporting FACTS rather than lies that people in position$ of power don't care to hear.

- Brian

Posted by: Brian on September 19, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

**

Posted by: mhr on September 19, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Notice, by the way, how often the so-called "liberal media" blankly asserts these days that legislation requires 60 votes for passage.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberals want greater rights for them than for soldiers who wore uniforms and insignia."

Yes, so we know we had the right guys. In this case, we don't know if innocent people have gotten caught up in our net. And how long were those Germans held? It wasn't 4 years. and counting...

BTW - is that where we got our current techniques on torture? How about the fascistic nature of many Americans?

Posted by: Captain on September 19, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

It does not help when the NYTimes headline reads:

Senate Blocks Detainees’ Rights Bill

Senate blocks? Why not Republicans Block?

Fraking NYTimes

Posted by: karog on September 19, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

mhr

In WWII POWs were held under established conventions of war. Their identities were a matter of record, and I believe their natice countries were even notified. Everyone knew they would be either released or tried for war crimes at the time of a treaty. This is an entirely different situation, where people not even necessarily captured on any type of battlefield can be held indefinitely and anonymously. I would be more than satisfied if POWs now got the same rights as those in WWII.

Posted by: Dawn on September 19, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I sure don't hear all the calls for an 'upperdownvote' I was hearing two years ago. Trent Lott didn't know how to speak one sentence without those words back then. And yes, I wish all of the media and the rare Dems who get on the teevee would restore the word 'filibuster' to their vocabulary. They think it is so arcane, but it is not. Everyone who had 7th grade civics classes knows exactly what it means. The media is dumb, not the citizens.

Posted by: Dawn on September 19, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Part of the problem is that Senate Democrats still think it's mean to accuse their Republican counterparts of obstruction. So you don't hear many Dem Senators pounding away on fillibusters. It's also very rare that you hear DNC spokespeople or Democratic consultants bring up the fillibuster issue on the cable shows. And we haven't seen the kind of steady, coordinated media criticism from blogs to push the issue either.

Changing the media narrative takes effort from mainstream Democrats and activists alike.

Posted by: owenz on September 19, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems were ready to pass a bill giving DC a Congressman, yet they claim to be the party that defends the Constitution. Ditto for many on this board. I'd love to see some true Constitutional supporters here admit that although they would like to give DC a Congressman, that would violate the Constitution.

Karog, my guess is that a majority of Americans do not want to give additional rights to Gitmo detainees. So, the Times may have been doing the Dems a favor by not giving the pubbies credit for blocking this unpopular provision.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

In WWII POWs were held under established conventions of war. Their identities were a matter of record, and I believe their natice countries were even notified. Everyone knew they would be either released or tried for war crimes at the time of a treaty. This is an entirely different situation, where people not even necessarily captured on any type of battlefield can be held indefinitely and anonymously. I would be more than satisfied if POWs now got the same rights as those in WWII.

This isn't WWII, where even the suicide attackers wore uniforms and flew clearly-marked military planes. Nor is there an enemy that will surrender, or sign treaties. Incidentally, back then, attackers disguised as civilians were usually just shot.

Frankly, I hope the filibuster thrives, no matter which party is running the Senate. Anything that can keep some of the supremely idiotic ideas we've seen over the past few years from becoming law is probably a good thing.

Posted by: harry on September 19, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for the DNC to quit fucking around and buy full page or even two page spreads in all the mid-market newspapers and list in simple but accurate detail how certain Republican Senate and House members have voted on bills pertaining to the economy, Iraq, etc. This kind of shit gets "objectivized" to death on the front page day-after-day. There is no "on the other hand" for most of these issues, and most Americans don't read editorial pages, most of which are slanted to the right anyway.

Posted by: JeffII on September 19, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

How come the Senate Repubs got so upset when the Dems delayed voting on things, but think its perfectly all right if they do it .. can't someone at least call them on their double standard?
I think we need a new political party ... somewhere a little to the left of the Democrats so the fascists can jump off the deep end and the moderate repubs can join the Dem party ...
I hate hipocrites.

Posted by: Erika on September 19, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Anne Flaherty's piece for the AP also said the Senate (not Republicans) "rejected" the bill. The article does not use the word "filibuster," and certainly does not say "Republicans filibustered the bill to restore habeas corpus rights," which would, of course, be accurate.

For Clueless Al: if you haven't figured it out by now, MSNBC's account is wildly misleading. The vote was not 56-43 "against the bill," it was a vote to invoke cloture (close debate and bring the matter to an up-or-down vote) which requires, by convention, 60 votes in the Senate. The 56 is the number FOR THE BILL, but they lost to 43 who wanted a filibuster.


Posted by: ppp on September 19, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Washington Post correctly attributes the blockage of the DC bill to the Republicans:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/18/AR2007091801158.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

Posted by: Tom Veil on September 19, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

The 1 no vote from the D/I side on the habeas bill was Lieberman. Surprise, surprise, surprise! NOT! But Joe did vote with the Dems on the DC bill.

Posted by: pgl on September 19, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Erika,

You can call it a 'double standard', but it's how the game is played - by both sides. When you're down, you make such noise.

Where the Dems fail is in their message unity. Back when the GOP called the DFL 'obstructionist', the label gained traction - for a little while anyhow.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 19, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Just a note, responding to mhr is a waste of time. Those posts will be removed soon and you will be responding to nothing.

Posted by: heavy on September 19, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

On topic this is, again, why we need more Democrats in the Senate. Republicans are not concerned with national security or the Rule of Law. They are constitutionally unfit for office.

Posted by: heavy on September 19, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

That's screwed up.

Posted by: Swan on September 19, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

reb. party are a joke

Hypocrite Hillary(DC Experience Matters?JFK & Bill HAD LIL

This Video Is Showing That Hillary is a hypocrite for saying obama has no experience

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBy3AKn_2Fk

Posted by: kyle on September 19, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

wishiwuz:
Yes, i guess that is how the game is played .. I still like to think (however naively) that these people we elect really want to do the best for the country. apparently not .. just the best for their party.
I just get tired of it.

Posted by: Erika on September 19, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

" Would it really be so hard for reporters to make it clear exactly who's responsible for blocking these bills?"

Would it be so hard to make these dorks actually filibuster every one of these bills?

Posted by: memekiller on September 19, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

That chart's amazing. I wish we'd had it during last years fight about the filibuster...

Posted by: david on September 19, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time, "up or down vote" was a favorite GOP talking point. Of course, that was before Democrats took over the Senate.

For more on the Republicans' obstructionist strategy on the Military Commissions Act (and virtually everything else), see:
"Up or Down Vote: Death of a GOP Talking Point."

Posted by: Raging on September 19, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Would it really be so hard for reporters to make it clear exactly who's responsible for blocking these bills?

Yes. Unless the Dems actually go on the cable shows and talk to the print reporters en masse the press will not work to provide the truth. If I don't see the prime-time news shows riddled with Dems yelling about this obstruction I'm going to tear my head off, it's maddening how lazy the Dems are about follow through on all political matters.

Posted by: Fred F. on September 19, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Low-Paid, Liberal, Nonprofit Yuppies Unite

What is a low-paid yuppie? Seriously; this is not a joke. I want to know.

Posted by: Stanley Lee on September 19, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Dems need to shout this from the rooftops. The 11% approval rating for congress is due to GOP OBSTRUCTION.

Posted by: lilybart on September 19, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like time for Sen. Reid to invoke the 'nukular option' and demand 'up or down votes'. This chart should be flooding the airwaves right now with video flashbacks of Dr. Frist bloviating on 'democrat obstruction'.

The GOP deserves to be kicked in the nuts, and a cheer would resound through the land if Reid led such a charge.

Take it from here, Harry.

Posted by: bobbyp on September 19, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

You seem to forget that most mainstream media outlets are controlled by right-wing fascists (e.g. GE, Disney, Murdoch's NewsCorp). It doesn't make a dime's worth of difference how liberal reporters or anchors are - if the guy in the CEO suite or the Chairman of the Board is a hard right Republican, you can bet that the news coming out of the network news shops or the major metropolitan newspapers will have a decided right-wing bias.

The myth of the "liberal media" has been promoted by the far right - because it is useful in pushing the political dialogue further and further to the right. Until, moderate Repubicans like Al Hunt of the WSJ are portrayed as "liberals" on the weekly talk shows, as absurd as that is.

The Obstructionist Republicans will never get called on it, until we reinstate the Fairness Doctrine and begin to heavily tax the wealthy to fund more regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum, which they have usurped for their own political gains.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 19, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK
Would it really be so hard for reporters to make it clear exactly who's responsible for blocking these bills?

Hard? No. Contrary to the corporate interests of the bodies that employ them? Yes.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 19, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

As things stand, though, Republicans will largely avoid blame for their tactics. After all, the first story linked above says only that the DC bill "came up short in the Senate" and the second one that the habeas bill "fell short in the Senate."

This whole thing reminds me of this song, Old Dan Tucker, which we were taught in 2nd or 3rd grade in my elementary school. My community is a little fond of cursing and obscene language, and, the singing of kids being the closest human singing to shouting besides, well, shouting, the whole class was able to get away with singing it as "Old Damn Fucker," at the top of our lungs and smiling broadly. The music teacher loved our enthusiasm.

Posted by: Swan on September 19, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin (and most of the rest of you) might want to try reading the entire NYT story. Here are the last three paragraphs:

Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, said it was “deeply disappointing” that a Senate minority had blocked efforts to restore the right of habeas corpus. “We can and should bring terrorists to justice but we can do it without sacrificing the values upon which our nation was built,” he said.

Besides Mr. Specter, five other Republican Senators supported the measure. They were Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and John E. Sununu of New Hampshire. Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, also voted for it.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who lists himself as an independent Democrat, was the only non-Republican to vote against it. Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, did not vote.

I guess it's just that damn right-wing NYT at it again. Jeez.

Posted by: Brian on September 19, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Republicans have successfully filibustered two more bills today...

No, they did not. They successfully obstructed two more bills, but they did not filibuster. People keep using that word, but I think a great many of them need to look it up in a damned dictionary.

Only when Joementum or some other obstructionist old prick falls down, lips cracked and ready to piss himself after a 12-hour bout of reading a cookbook, will it be a filibuster.

Please use the correct terms.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 19, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

It would also behoove Dems when the appear on the news shows for the next 72 hours straight denouncing this obstruction by the Repubs (sadly, that's snark) to also remind people that Lieberman is not an Independent-Democrat, he's a CT for Leiberman party member. He's not affiliated with the Democrats, he doesn't vote with them and even the Dems in his own state no longer support him.

Posted by: Fred F. on September 19, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why the Democrats don't even force the Republicans to do a real filibuster is beyond me. I suspect they are convinced that this GOP obstructionism "looks bad" and that those appearances are enough. Pretty shallow thinking, but that's the only explanation.

Then again, this is what an opposition party looks like when the tide, while turning, has yet to fully turn their way.

Posted by: moodmovesmarkets on September 19, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Girlie, that's how filibusters work these days.

Posted by: Brian on September 19, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I used to play that song on the fiddle.

Git out of the way for old Dan Tucker
He's too late to git his....PIE!

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, said it was “deeply disappointing” that a Senate minority had blocked efforts to restore the right of habeas corpus.

Brian, if the only time they can bring themselves to say what really happened is when they are almost directly quoting Russ Feingold - in the 3rd to last paragraph of the story - then there is indeed a problem.

Posted by: Dawn on September 19, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Dawn, quit whining. All the relevant facts are in the story.

Posted by: Brian on September 19, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

One of the greatest miscasting events in Hollywood was in choosing James Stewart over Gabby Hayes to play Jefferson Smith in "Mr Smith goes to Washington"

Ah, for Gabby to have stood in the well, saying "Revet..."

Of course, when Regency Books publishes the 12 set volume of "My Pet Goat goes to War", then a real filibuster can commence.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 19, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on September 19, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes Congress has been called "The do-nothing Congress." When they were in charge, we called the Republicans "The rubber-stamp Congress" because they approved everything Bush wanted (and, Bush let through everything they wanted.) Now, we can call them "The stop-everything Congress" (or "The stop-everythings in Congress.")

Keep reminding the voters, that with 60 votes needed to pass anything now, the Republicans are the reason "nothing gets done."

Posted by: Neil B. on September 19, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

"called the 'do-nothing Congress'"

Well, if one can get a train to travel around the country, and stop in every other one horse town, and then someone with "Balls" steps out on the platform and speaks directly to the folks, it might work - Of course, coming up with someone with a set of iron cojones might be a tad hard.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 19, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why exactly aren't Democrats forcing real filibusters again?

Posted by: Randall Flagg on September 19, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, the Republicans filibuster all the time. The Democrats never--what is going on here?

The Democrats can filibuster Iraq war appropriation bills and put an end to this insane war but they don't!

41 senators is all it takes but, alas, the dems have the backbone of a chocolate eclair.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on September 19, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Just a question to clarify something - In order to have the Senate vote on a measure, sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture which stops speeches for or against the measure. If there aren't sixty votes, there then are two options: force those who are against the measure to continue to speak or withdraw the measure.
If the measure is not withdrawn then we have a filibuster, speeches will continue until a vote is allowed. And THAT vote needs only a simple majority.
However, while the filibuster continues, nothing else gets done, correct? Would that be the reason (or one of them) for Reid's failure to force the Republicans to filibuster?

Posted by: Doug on September 19, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I am begging you: Stop calling it a filibuster!

It's NOT a filibuster - it's the THREAT of a filibuster.

It's nothing more than a finger in a pocket pretending to be a gun.

A REAL filibuster is when minority member have to stand on their feet for hours, days, weeks, talking nonstop, with no water, no food, no breaks.

Ask Robert Byrd; he knows what a real filibuster looks like and what it takes.

The Senate hasn't seen a real filibuster in decades; there's not a republican alive who could keep one going for a hour.

If the dems forced the repugs to actually filibuster, the cowardly bullies would fold immediately.

But the dems can't do that until the MSM and bloggers stop labeling an empty threat a "filibuster."

It's not. Never has been. Never will be.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on September 19, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAR

Posted by: urkel on September 19, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

On today's cloture votes (habeas and combat tours), the WaPo is batting about 1-for-6 on the website.

The front page attributes both defeats to "the Senate": "Bill to Expand Detainee Rights Fails in Senate" and "Senate Blocks Bill to Limit Length of Combat Tours."

The headlines of the actual articles read: "Senate Fails to Pass Measure Expanding Detainee Rights" and "Senate Blocks Bill on Iraq Combat Tours."

Jonathan Weisman's article on the Habeas bill puts the onus on the GOP in the lede, albeit with a backhand slap at the Dems:

A Republican filibuster in the Senate today shot down a bipartisan effort to restore the right of terrorism suspects to contest their detentions and treatment in federal courts, underscoring the Democratic-led Congress's difficulty with terrorism issues.

Memo to Weisman: the Dems know what they're doing with terrorism issues. Their problem is with the freakin' Republicans.

And William Branigin, in a lengthy article, never gets around to telling us straight-out which party blocked the bill. You've got to figure it out from the last two paragraphs of the article, if you read that far to begin with.

One would think the WaPo is deliberately hiding the connection between the GOP and the bills' defeat.

Branigin's article also mentions "the 60 votes needed for passage" which of course is a falsehood.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 19, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans undermine the Constitution, Rule of Law and now Majority Rule.

There's nothing left for Congress to do but impeach and convict Cheney and then Bush.

Restore American Rule of Law, Majority Rule and the Constitution!

Posted by: MarkH on September 19, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, just like today it was said the democrats failed to stop the war. They can't get the votes because of corrupt republicans. But that isn't how the media reports it. The game remains
blame the dems.

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 19, 2007 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

What I cannot understand is why isn't the Democratic leadership calling the Republican's filibuster bluff?

Make them filibuster each bill they want. Hell the Democrats should ask their own constituents to send in phone books so the Republicans have enough to read.

Then let them read until their lobbyist cronies have to hold them up by the elbow at the podium. It's not like there is any real legislating getting done.

Make Republicans talk and talk and talk and the American voters will hate them even more than they do now.

Posted by: paulo on September 19, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

What is really sad is that half of the R's opposed the DC bill on the ground that they were concerned it was unconstitutional, and then turned around and supported the elimination of habeas, which really is unconstitutional. the fact that none of them has been struck by lightning or spontaneously combusted is probably as good evidence as any there is no God.

Posted by: Doh on September 19, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats are pathetic worms that are frightened of their own shadows. That is the only conclusion I can draw after watching the majority capitulate to the minority time and time again without even forcing the minority to follow through on its threats.

Either that or they are the Washington Generals, while the Republicans are the Harlem Globetrotters. Meaning that they can't let themselves win. They just need to put on a good show and make damn sure they don't beat the Globetrotters.

It's like they're holding Ace King, and the Republicans move all-in with 7-2, and show them that they have 7-2, and still the Democrats won't call.

The Democrats should study other countries' progressive parties. Then they might learn how to slap the shit out of conservatives. I don't even know why I even pay attention any more. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on September 19, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. This filibuster business could have been eliminated last term when Frist/Cheney and cronies were all set for the "nuclear" option. Dems went into panic mode and recruited some fearful Republicans to compromise on court appointments. Look at what got...zip. The filibuster has always been a tool for right wing zealots to screw the majority. Remember those old Democratic Southern fools hanging up civil rights for almost a hundred years? Well now its Republican idiots with a much wider, evil agenda at work and we would all be a lot better off if this filibuster business was killed off.

Posted by: chazbo on September 19, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

So who was against giving D.C. representation? Lieberman?

Posted by: Anon on September 19, 2007 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Can't blame the reporters here. If the Dems are going to let filibuster be a quick procedure, they can't expect the press to spin it any other way. How fucking dumb are these guys anyway?! After what they've been thru for the last 14 years, and this is the best they can do?

Is the Congress an eccentric old lady's house? Cuz it smells like it's overrun with pussies.

Posted by: jussumbody on September 20, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

I think you're wrong on this kevin. Republicans aren't trying to keep the President clean, they're succeeding at keeping Democrats from advancing popular legislation because they know that there will be no downside given weak Dems and our current media.

Posted by: POD on September 20, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Why do the Republicans hate civil rights and the troops?

Posted by: Ya Know... on September 20, 2007 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Truth be told, most voters have no clue how the Senate works and probably think that a filibuster is some kind of exercise machine. Those of us who are well educated and politically active forget that we are a relative minority. Most people are pretty clueless about how our government actually works, which is why its so easy for politicians to hoodwink them.

Posted by: mfw13 on September 20, 2007 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

So who was against giving D.C. representation? Lieberman?

Max Baucus.

Posted by: shortstop on September 20, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

So, what's the new update to the chart? We were at 42 in July--where are we today?

Posted by: Fred on September 20, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

From what I can tell they're up to 45 cloture votes right now. My count seems to be off slightly from what McClatchy said in July, but its based off the official roll call data

Ruby script to parse the senate.gov webpage listing the data and return the names of issues voted on and the total cloture votes is here:

http://crayz.org/cloture.txt

script is a bit of hack but appears to work. Let me know if anyone sees any problems

Posted by: crayz on September 20, 2007 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't it time to force a real filibuster? Right now all they have to do is say they will and it is considered done. What might happen if Senators had to put their words where their money is and stand up and speak without stopping until either they fainted or gave up?

Posted by: Marc on September 20, 2007 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

CSPAN's Washinton Journal this morning once again stated that Webb's amendement DIDN'T GET THE SIXTY VOTES NEEDED TO PASS.

If CSPAN can't even pass Civics 101, how can we expect preening journalists to?

Posted by: howie on September 20, 2007 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

At least on Olbermann, his replacement, while he recovers from minor surgery, did talk about filibustering.

And, unfortunately, Webb's bill failed due to the same obstructionists.

Roll Over Max of Montana reminds me of a time in a bar on Last Chance Gulch in Helena, MT - A fight had ensued between a couple of town drunks - As one of them was being 86ed, he looked at the lone African-American in the bar - A friend of mine who hailed from Louisiana - The drunk protested that how could they kick him out, when the N-word shouldn't even be in the state. My friend told me that in all of his years in Louisiana, he had never heard that comment.

Yeah, Max, must keep out that Uppity Democratic vote in the House.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 20, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, those Republicans, afraid of giving D.C. a voting representative. Haven't they noticed the District isn't just a "Negro enclave" anymore, but that it's actually getting whiter? (Many middle-class blacks are emigrating to the suburbs.) Of course, trouble is, all the white Republicans in the Washington area choose to live in Virginia.

Posted by: Vincent on September 20, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

The filibuster is supposed to be an extreme measure of public obstruction only to be used in the most dire of circumstances at great cost to those who do it.

Democrats are allowing low profile virtual filibusters by not requiring the full procedure in the rules.

Not passing cloture only means debate can continue. A bill isn't dead because debate is still open.

If a real filibuster occurs, all other business is halted and the presence of a quorum is required and if speakers stop for any reason, even for the bathroom, the filibuster is in jeopardy.

If the Republicans want to use this tactic, force them to do it for real. Force them into the public spectacle of obstruction, risking soiled pants and collapsing from exhaustion and forcing their fellows to live on the senate floor.

Democrats have some agreement with Republicans equating the cloture vote with filibustering, but I doubt it's binding and might not even be legal. It clearly violates the intent (if not the letter) of Rule 22, and a backdoor minority veto is entirely unconstitutional.

So the Dems don't have to do anything complicated, just say "fine, debate will continue."

Posted by: softdog on September 20, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats are a party that had the Nuclear Option shoved down their throat last Congress, whereby they'd lose the right to filibuster even though the Republicans didn't have a filibuster-proof majority to change the rule! And now they're a bunch that cave at the very first sign of Republican opposition to anything they are trying to achieve. They are the most pathetic sacks of shit in all the body politics of all western democracies. They have been given a chance by their public to run the world's most powerful nation, but they're too chickenshit to give it a try. Laughable. I don't know why anyone would give them a dime.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on September 20, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Would it really be so hard for reporters to make it clear exactly who's responsible for blocking these bills?"

It wouldn't be hard at all if the Democrats forced the Republicans to really filibuster the old-fashioned way:

"Senate Rule 22 permits procedural filibusters, in which actual continuous floor speeches are not required, although the Senate Majority Leader may require an actual traditional filibuster if he or she so chooses."

Can anyone doubt that such filibusters would be reported as filibusters? With the Senators reading the phone book for hours, etc?

Can anyone doubt that the use of filibusters would drop precipitiously if Republicans had to filibuster the old-fasioned way?

This "problem" is 100% in the Democrats control.

Posted by: tomtom on September 20, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems were ready to pass a bill giving DC a Congressman, yet they claim to be the party that defends the Constitution. Ditto for many on this board. I'd love to see some true Constitutional supporters here admit that although they would like to give DC a Congressman, that would violate the Constitution.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Happy to. I'm a liberal Democrat and I admit it. I think it would be great for DC to have a Member of Congress. I believe that can only happen, however, via Constitutional amendment. Now, will you admit that Republicans in the Senate have a strategy to deny consent to even bring up major bills for consideration?

Posted by: Pat on September 20, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Query: If the Dems required the Repubs to actually fillibuster the bills in question, would the Dems have mustered 50-1 and 49-1 votes on the bills you mentioned?

Likely, the because they know that the Repubs will do a "silent filibuester", certain Dems whose constituencies would otherwise oppose a cetain bill, end up voting for it.

In other words, I suspect that many of the bills in question would fail anyway, but in doing so would give Repubs an issue on which to run against several Dems.

Thus, not a lot of upside for the Dems (i.e., no clear Repub fillibuster or presidential veto) and plenty of possible downside.

Posted by: Jim on September 21, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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