Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 29, 2010

SENATE REPUBLICANS BLOCK BILL SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES.... It seems like the kind of bill that should pass pretty easily. As the job market continues to struggle, Democrats have proposed a package to aid small businesses, including tax breaks, new incentives, and an attempt to expand credit through a lending program that utilizes local banks.

Today on the Senate floor, it had 59 supporters and 41 opponents, which means it failed, and the entire effort is in jeopardy.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) failed to break a weeks-long GOP filibuster of small-business jobs legislation and was forced to scramble to figure out his next move after Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) bitterly attacked his handling of the bill Thursday. [...]

But Snowe's attack on the Senate floor -- in which she accused Reid of performing "political theater. It's not about legislating anymore" -- clearly caught Reid and other Democrats off guard and forced the Democratic leader to make a last-ditch effort to salvage the bill.

(For the record, the final vote was technically 58-42, but only because Reid had to switch his vote for procedural reasons. Every member of the Democratic caucus opposed the GOP filibuster, and every Republican voted to kill the bill.)

In a display that can best be described as insane, Senate Republicans demanded all week that the chamber act on the small-business-incentives measure, and not waste time with measures like campaign-finance reform. But this morning, when the small-business package was ready to move, Republicans balked.

To hear them tell it, GOP senators aren't against helping small businesses -- at least not explicitly -- but they're filibustering to get more time for more votes on more amendments to the bill.

In other words, Republicans have gone from complaining about the bill not coming up sooner to trying to drag out the process out.

So, the good news is the bill isn't dead, at least not yet. The bad news is, Republican senators are acting like spoiled children, in the hopes of eating up valuable pre-recess calendar time, making it impossible for the Senate to do anything else with its limited schedule. The energy bill is in trouble anyway, but by playing games with small businesses, making any progress on energy is looking even less likely.

Olympia Snowe was especially embarrassing this morning. Her argument was that the Senate needs to act quickly to help small businesses -- which is why she's supporting the filibuster to prevent a vote on helping small businesses.

What a ridiculous mess.

Steve Benen 2:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

Let the filibuster run! Cancel recess! Make some political theater out of this.

Posted by: mcc on July 29, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Also what happened to George LeMieux?

Posted by: mcc on July 29, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK
The bad news is, Republican senators are acting like spoiled children. . . .
That's not exactly "news." Posted by: Glenn Beck's Chalkboard on July 29, 2010 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I agree--make them REALLY filibuster and show it on C-Span for all it's worth.

Posted by: jjm on July 29, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans are fully invested in ensuring that the economy is as bad as possible. That explains their opposition to this bill. But they are the true patriots right?

Posted by: Vince on July 29, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans have gone from complaining about the bill not coming up sooner to trying to drag out the process out.

Nothing illogical about this. If the bill had come up sooner, it would be finished about now.

Posted by: Grumpy on July 29, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

"As the job market continues to struggle, Democrats have a proposed a package to aid small businesses, including tax breaks, new incentives, and an attempt to expand credit through a lending program that utilizes local banks."

Don't worry. Look what VP Biden said:

"And secondly, we're creating new jobs that are going to be the kind you can raise your family on."


Posted by: relief on July 29, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Olympia Snowe has descended to the ninth circle. I don't car what her previous reputation was; in this Congress, she has been a chronically lying sack of shit.

Posted by: demtom on July 29, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Wake me when they drag out the cots. I don't want excuses. I want results.

Posted by: square1 on July 29, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

-The energy bill is in trouble anyway, but by playing games with small businesses, making any progress on energy is looking even less likely.-


I'll get Gore to fly in!

Posted by: Gaia on July 29, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

The bad news is, Republican senators are acting like spoiled children. . . .
That's not exactly "news."

I know. At least when Kerry got asked regarding his MA tax evasion, he simply had his driver pull away. Stoicism...

Posted by: Riptide on July 29, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Get Reid to cancel or delay the recess.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on July 29, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

demtom: Are any of her actual constituents aware of it?

jjm: "Make them talk" probably isn't really how it works. More likely all 59 Democratic Senators would have to stay in the building for the entire duration of the filibuster, while maybe one or two Republicans could stay on the floor to periodically request meaningless motions while the rest of the Republican caucus skips town. The Democrats actually DID "make them talk" on a filibuster at the start of the financial reform debate, and C-SPAN aired it, and it just looked like an empty chamber with one or two people milling around. (There are procedural tricks the Democrats can use to try to force the Republicans to talk while they filibuster, but there are also procedural tricks the Republicans can use to weasel out of that.) But the Democrats could do SOMETHING. They could at least force the media to report on Republican obstructionism and Democratic attempts to overcome it instead of printing one small "Democrats fail to pass small business reform" item followed by silence for a month.

Posted by: mcc on July 29, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

And are Democrats really so incompetent that they can't throw in enough provisions to specifically benefit small businesses in Maine and Massachusetts in order to siphon off Collins, Snowe, and Brown?

Scott Brown, Republican though he may be, strikes me as a fairly pragmatic guy who is not going to follow his party on a anti-Democratic jihad if he is given the right incentives.

If nothing else, you need to build some ammunition for the campaigns in '12 and '14. Force the Senators from Mass. and Maine to make some tough votes.

Posted by: square1 on July 29, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans stopped the bill because they think that if people stay unemployed they will sweep into office. The Dems need to start bashing Repubs now... yesterday...

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Senate Republicans --- every last one of them --- are dicks. Used to be, you could count on Snowe or Collins or possibly Graham to be reasonable once in a while. Hell, before he decided to run for president, even McCain behaved responsibly every now and then.

But not any more. Best thing that could happen to the country and the Republican party is for Republican candidates to lose every Senate election this cycle. Of course that won't happen, more's the pity.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 29, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

The President should start going to the public and hitting hard on the numerical tally on these Senate votes. "We had 58 votes to pass this, but it still isn't enough to help small businesses." Basically the Republicans are getting away with endless filibuster because the Democratic Establishment doesn't want to interrupt the supposed "comity" of the Senate by raising it as a campaign issue. But the internet has made the internal workings obvious and the Republicans have never carried their rhetorical poison this far, so it may not be possible to go back, anyway.

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

And the headlines at tonight's news:

SENATE FAILS TO ACT

Completely ignoring the reason why the Senate cannot function. If the media explained this very simple thing to the public, the public would get pissed off, and maybe things would change.

Posted by: Rochester on July 29, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

[...] Republican senators are acting like spoiled children, in the hopes of eating up valuable pre-recess calendar time [...] -- Steve Benen

I'd cancel the recess, so that they have one less thing to worry about. And cut off the AC in the building, for good measure.

Posted by: exlibra on July 29, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Make them stay until they agree to vote. That way they don't get to go home to campaign for the November elections.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on July 29, 2010 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

You used to be able to count on Lindsy Grahm for these things.....then some teabagger threatened to out him as gay and he suddenly got right back into line. Faggot!

Posted by: Marsha Gberg on July 29, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

exlibra has it right - cancel the recess and keep them in the Senate Chamber until they allow a vote.
DC without air-conditioning? In August? Two, three days, tops.

Posted by: Doug on July 29, 2010 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, Republicans have gone from complaining about the bill not coming up sooner to trying to drag out the process out.

Well, at least that's a new tactic of theirs. It used to be that they'd try to drag out the process, or drag the process out. Now they're trying to "drag out the process out," whatever that is. It sounds like it's even more time-consuming than their previous tactics.

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