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.
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.
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.