Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gillibrand Backs Filibuster Reform

It's beginning to look like the filibuster might actually be changed. And with good reason. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is on board:
As I've traveled throughout New York, one of the concerns I hear most from my constituents is a deep frustration with those in Congress. They feel that Washington is broken and unable to do the job we were elected to do. If voters sent one message on Election Day, it was that they are desperate for their elected representatives to work together to get things done for the people who pay their salaries.

If we're going to continue to grow the economy, create jobs, reduce the deficit and accomplish all the things the American people expect of us, we simply must get Washington working again. Which is why I am a strong supporter of efforts to reform the filibuster.
It's one thing to block a few bills on occasion, when the opposition does something that you think is particularly egregious, but it's another thing entirely to bring the business of the Senate to a total halt:
The fact is, as a consequence of unprecedented obstructionism during the last Congress, the filibuster was used more in two years than it had been in the 1950s, 60s and 70s combined. This is unacceptable.
How bad has it been? This bad:

As the graphs show, only 56 cloture motions were filed over 52 years from 1919 through 1970.  At just over one per year, filibusters were rarely used. 420 cloture motions were filed over the next 22 years, from 1971 to 1992, a sharp increase to 19 per year.

1993-1994 saw Republicans’ “Contract with America” that escalated partisanship to higher levels. From 1993-2006, motions nearly doubled to 36 per year. Cloture motions took an even more dramatic upturn in 2007 when Republicans lost control of the Senate.  Cloture motions nearly doubled again to almost 70 per year, and rose further to 74 in 2009.  Clearly, filibuster became the weapon of choice for Republicans.

Republicans accuse Democrats of filibustering, and there is some truth to that. But as the graphs show, Republicans initiated each spike and have now taken filibustering to an absurd new level.
Absurd indeed. But it's what the Senate GOP said they would do in 2008, that they would throw a monkey wrench into everything this president tried to do. And they were partially successful.

But get ready for a lame-duck president who doesn't have to deal with the right-wing troglodytes in the Senate anymore. Then we'll see what passing progressive legislation is all about. I hope the president shoves it up McConnell's keester sideways.

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