Saturday, June 30, 2007

Failure in Congress

I imagine that Nancy Pelosi must be getting really frustrated by now. She set goals, and the House passed the bills.

In its first 40 hours, the new majority of the House of Representatives kept their promise to voters and passed legislation—increasing the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, empowering Medicare to negotiate lower prices on drugs, cutting interest rates on student loans in half, revoking big oil subsidies and using the money to invest in renewable energy—that provided a down payment for a new direction for this country.

These bills are overwhelmingly popular, and are simply common sense reforms.
Yet every one of them—and many more—got held up in the U.S. Senate.

Conservatives boast about the “success” of their strategy in discrediting the new majority. As Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., put it, “the strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.”

How is it working? It’s dragging the reputation of the Congress down to the level of the failed president. Conservatives lie in the road of progress and then complain that nothing is moving.

The problem is the Senate, where the filibuster has killed the bills.
The fact is that Senate Republicans have obstructed almost every bill in the Senate so far this year - and this includes the ones with wide, bipartisan support.

In the first half of the first session of the 110th Congress, there have been 13 cloture votes on motions to proceed. This kind of formal vote to simply proceed with debate isn't often required and only occurs when one party cannot agree to even move forward with debate and a subsequent up-or-down vote on an issue.

Republicans have forced 13 of those in less than six months. To give you an idea of how obstructionist that is, there were only four cloture votes on motions to proceed in the two years comprising the first sessions of the 108th and 109th Congresses.

"Once known as the Grand Ole Party, today the Republican Party can more aptly be described that the ‘Grand Obstructionist Party,’” said Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday. “Perhaps they see progress in a new Congress as defeat for them rather than a win for the American people. Whatever the reason, they need to know that by their obstructionism, they’re not hurting Democrats, they’re slighting the American

Funny how obstructionism is OK when Republicans do it.

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