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."
The details of Gregg's outline are a clear reflection of the extent to which Republicans are turning to the Byzantine processes of the Senate chamber as a means of holding up reform.
Considering the already lethargic pace of health care reform, this is an illuminating reminder of how Republican's are putting their energy into dragging out the process rather than affecting the legislation.
(bolds are mine. complete text at the link)
Needless to say, this is not about policy or reform; this is about stopping any form of legislation out of fear that it might help the democrats. Sen. Gregg and his cohorts have no interest in serving their constituents; they only care about a partisan victory. Self-promotion trumps governance in their minds.
And, as a result, the senate has become completely dysfunctional. It's one thing for a minority party to oppose a policy by trying to modify legislation to reflect a different set of ideals. It's quite another thing to try to prevent the body from taking any action at all.
If we had an informed electorate, any senator engaging in this type of behavior, regardless of ideology, should and would be removed from office. To so blatantly say "I want to stop the government dead in it's tracks", rather than trying to govern in a way that you prefer, proves that you are unfit for office in government. Democracy, for all its flaws, requires that elected officials, in some fashion, represent the people who elected them. It's perfectly respectable to vote against a policy you disagree with; it's downright Un-American to prevent that vote from taking place.
(this is completely seperate from the debate as to what kind of health care reform would be best-I'm discussing the efforts to prevent any action at all)