Thursday, December 3, 2009

Action Alert: The Senate Is Broken

The GOP has become so over the edge in obstructing our nation’s business that they have undermined the legislative process.  The current health care impasse is a prime example.

judd_gregg Ah, Judd Gregg, erstwhile Obama cabinet member. I guess he feels he still needs to make amends to his Republican overlords for that flirtation with bipartisanship. Here's what he's up to now:

Sen. Judd Gregg, (R-NH) has penned the equivalent of an obstruction manual -- a how-to for holding up health care reform -- and has distributed the document to his Republican colleagues.

Insisting that it is "critical that Republican senators have a solid understanding of the minority's rights in the Senate," Gregg makes note of all the procedural tools the GOP can use before measures are considered, when they come to the floor and even after passage.

He highlights the use of "hard quorum calls for any motion to proceed, as opposed to a far quicker unanimous consent provision. He reminds his colleagues that, absent unanimous consent, they can force the Majority Leader to read any "full-text substitute amendment." And when it comes to offering amendments to the health care bill, the New Hampshire Republican argues that it is the personification of "full, complete, and informed debate," to "offer an unlimited number of amendments -- germane or non-germane -- on any subject."

Reid's office responded:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office pounced on such a vivid example of Republican instransigence. "Just in time for the holidays, here it is in black and white, the Republicans' manual for stall, stop and delay," said Jim Manley, Reid's spokesman. "And what do the American people get? -- higher costs and less coverage. What kind of present is that?"

In return, Dem leadership is threatening to "pull out the procedural stops to force votes on amendments."

Moreover, Senate Democrats said after huddling on floor strategy Wednesday, the majority party is prepared to keep the Senate in session until Christmas or beyond in order to complete work on the bill before New Year's.

"Unless the Republican leadership comes forward with a reasonable approach to these amendments, I think our patience is wearing thin," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). "We’re just not going to sit here forever and watch this bill go down."

The Senate began its formal debate on the healthcare reform bill on Monday but has yet to hold a vote on the first two amendments to the legislation because of Republican objections to moving forward. Without an agreement from the minority, Democrats would either have to file cloture on each amendment, a process that takes days and requires 60 votes, or move to table the amendments, a procedural move that requires only 51 votes but that traditionally has been viewed by senators as harsh.

Goodness, anything but be harsh… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Daily Kos>

Last night, Keith Olbermann summed up the situation quite well.


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Note that Ezra Klein said that the Republicans are not just holding up the legislation.  They are holding up the process whereby legislation is enacted.  They are using these tactics across the board, not just on health care.  They are mercilessly sabotaging the needs of the American people for political gain in scope and manner unprecedented in US.  history.  The Senate is broken.  While we have our majority, Democrats must change the rules to prevent further GOP misuse of existing procedures.

One such step has been proposed by Alan Grayson.  He suggests changing the requirement for cloture from 60 to 55 votes.  I would have posted this link earlier, but Grayson’s site was incompatible with Internet Explorer until recently.  Now it’s fixed, so if you have not already signed Grayson’s petition, please do.  It’s a start in the right direction.  To sign the petition, Click Here.


One Fly said...

Thanks for that link TC. These people no matter what is done will never give an inch. Our government id totally whored out and can not be repaired as it is now. We ain't seen anything yet.

JUDI M. said...

It has been total stonewalling since November of last year! The angry, old, rich, "CHRISTIAN" white men (with a few good, timid women thrown in) have no intention of giving up gracefully. I don't know which is worse: the lies or the senility.
Why can't we have term limits on these guys (2)? These positions were NOT supposed to be lifetime jobs. Our country's founders all had REAL jobs, too.

MadMike said...

Yes! Excellent post and I agree with Judi! We need term limits. Some of these old crockwonkers have been in the senate almost their entire adult lives and they are beholdin' to everyone.

Lisa G. said...

Well, don't get me started on the fossils in Congress (and I like older people!); some of these people are career politicians - they are so out of touch with reality, they couldn't find it with the Space Shuttle.

TC - thanks for posting that link again - I signed when it was in the comments a few days back and sent it to everyone I read. Enough of this BS! I oughtta just go there and start cracking heads, but I don't they'd let a middle aged, tiny woman, who's as pissed as she looks into the Senate chambers. I'm a get shit done mom and if I have to put someone in time out or smack them, it aint gonna be pretty. :) And I have teenagers, so I'm used to sass.

Lisa G. said...

Oh, and I use Google chrome instead of that resource pig IE - it is soooo much faster. I tell every one about it - it ROCKS!

Sue said...

I signed it Tom, thanks! And a huge thanks to Grayson for standing with the people!

TomCat said...

You're welcome, Fly. It will get worse before it gets better.

Judi and Mike, Solon tried term limitations in Athens circa 600 BC. Instead of selling out for campaign finance, legislators sold out for employment after their terms expired. As an alternative, I suggest 100% public election financing.

Lisa, if you were after me, I'd bury myself in the deepest corner of my kitty box. I love Chrome, but it does not support ad-ons. There are a few I use that are absolutely essential for my research.

Thanks Sue, and aman.

Dave Dubya said...

Unfortunately the government is not broken. It is functioning exactly as the corporate owners demand.

Democracy is broken. Freedom is dismantled. The government works just fine for the Evil Empire.

Jack Jodell said...

The Senate is broken alright. 40 Republicans plus Joe LIEberman, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu = a huge waste of time and taxpayer money. These conservatives love to piss and moan about government expense and inefficiency, and THEY'RE prime examples of it!

MadMike said...

Thanks for the tip Lisa G. I don't guess you are Howard Stern's Lisa G?

Lisa G. said...

Uh, nope, Howard and I haven't spoken in years....

Robert Rouse said...

The Senate? It's not broken. There are just a few screws loose and a lot of nuts and dolts that need to be replaced. It's definitely lost that "new Senate Chamber smell". A few automatic Glade Mist dispensers couldn't hurt!

TomCat said...

Dave, when the government works for the evil empire, that's broken.

That they are, Jack. I saw a video of Gregg bitching about Democtatic obstructionism in 2006. The occasion? They filibustered a single amendment to a bill.

Mike and Lisa, LOL!

Robert, the senate is too far gone, so I grabbed the glade for my kitty box. :-)