Tag: Filibuster Reform

Sunday June 2, 2013: Up with Steve Kornacki Tweets

Today was about vacancies in the DC circuit  courts being blocked in the Senate, the filibuster for once, Harry Reid, and the Justice Department obtained access to the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen accused him of being a likely criminal “co-conspirator” in the leak of sensitive material regarding North Korea, and violating the federal Espionage Act. All this now on #Uppers.

Thank you for reading.

Congressional Game of Chicken: Mitch and Harry, a Love Story

It would seem by now that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) realized that the filibuster “gentleman’s agreement” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is as much of a farce as “bipartisanship.” Since Last January’s deal, the Republicans have filibuster two cabinet nominees, unprecedented in the past, blocked numerous judges and other nominees. Now a group led by Sen. Rand Paul, Mitch’s compatriot from the Blue Grass State, have threatened to filibuster a bill that hasn’t even been written.

Once again, Harry has tossed out another idle threat to fix the filibuster, this tilw by invoking the dreaded “nuclear option.” In an interview with Nevada Public Radio, Harry said that “he has not ruled out altering Senate rules to speed up Senate judicial nominations.”

“All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary,” Reid says. [..]

“I’m a very patient man. Last Congress and this Congress, we had the opportunity to make some big changes. We made changes, but the time will tell whether they’re big enough. I’m going to wait and build a case,” Reid says. “If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action.”

E.J. Dionne makes some very salient points in his Washington Post op-ed, where he asks is this the end of majority rule? He points out three facts first that universal background checks are overwhelming supported by Americans; second, “the Morning Joe/Marist poll last week showing 64 percent of Americans saying that job creation should be the top priority for elected officials.” Third, “only 33 percent said their focus should be on reducing the deficit.” Yet, congress has completely ignored these facts allowing the NRA and the minority deficit hawks of the far right to control what is debated in the House.

Dionne goes on to say:

In a well-functioning democracy, the vast majority of politicians – conservative, moderate and liberal – would dismiss such views as just plain kooky. But here is the problem: A substantial portion of the Republican Party’s core electorate is now influenced both by hatred of Obama and by the views of the ultra-right. Strange conspiracy theories are admitted to the mainstream conversation through the GOP’s back door – and amplified by another fight for market share among talk radio hosts and Fox News commentators.

That’s because the Republican Party is no longer a broad and diverse alliance but a creature of the right.[..]

And our Constitution combines with the way we draw congressional districts to over-represent conservatives in both houses. The 100-member Senate is based on two senators per state regardless of size. This gives rural states far more power than population-based representation would. The filibuster makes matters worse. It’s theoretically possible for 41 senators representing less than 11 percent of the population to block pretty much anything.

The American people deserve better than this. There should be at least on functioning segment of the government that represents the people, that needs to be the Senate.

Harry, drop the bomb. Go for the nuclear option. Let Mitch squeal how his party has been wronged and how the Democrats will pay. Take the soap box away from the likes of radical loons like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Then pass approve some judges and nominees, pass bills the right wingers will hate but Americans will love. Tell President Obama that there will be no Social Security or Medicare cuts in the budget passed by the Senate. Tell the president that there will be a stimulus package to create jobs, an end to subsidies for oil companies and banks, as well as, tax reform and revenue increases.

Stand up to the right wing so-called Democrats, like Max Baucus, Harry. End your destructive “love affair” with Mitch. End filibuster.

I have a dream. Harry Reid could make it a reality.

More GOP Obstruction, Extortion and Hostage Taking

With changing how the Senate functions now done, the obstruction, extortion and hostage taking by the GOP continues. The latest target is the appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the agency is weakened. n a letter to President Obama dated FEbruary 1, 43 Republican Senators have threaten to filibuster Mr. Cordray’s permanent appointment:

“The CFPB as created by the deeply flawed Dodd-Frank Act is one of the least accountable in Washington,” said McConnell. “Today’s letter reaffirms a commitment by 43 Senators to fix the poorly thought structure of this agency that has unprecedented reach and control over individual consumer decisions – but an unprecedented lack of oversight and accountability.” [..]

In particular, Republicans want to see the top of the bureau changed so it is run by a bipartisan, five-member commission, as opposed to a lone director.

They also want to see the bureau’s funding fall under the control of congressional appropriators – it currently is funded via a revenue stream directly from the Federal Reserve, and its funding levels cannot be altered by Congress. Republicans also want to give other regulators greater power to veto CFPB rules that could pose a threat to the safety and soundness of financial institutions.

There would have been 44 but Sen.Bob Corker (R-TN) is instead looking at legislative ways to boost the bureau’s accountability and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is demanding that Mr. Cordray voluntarily weaken his own agency.

Mr. Cordray’s recess appointment may also be in jeopardy with the recent ruling by federal appeals court ruled that three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional.

In other words the GOP wants to hamstring any regulations of the banks and Wall Street and will hold up Cordray’s appointment until they get their way.

At The Maddow Blog, Steve Benen calls this extortion politics by the minority to nullify the will of the people and it should not be allowed to stand:

It’s not exactly news that Senate filibuster rules have been abused to the point of breaking the institution. Though the Senate operated by majority rule for about two centuries, there are now, as a practical matter, mandatory supermajorities for just about everything.

That said, some filibusters matter far more than others, and some may even rise to the level of a constitutional crisis.[..]

What we’re talking about here is a shrinking Senate minority pursuing a nullification strategy — they want to nullify federal law by abusing procedural tactics in a way that’s literally never been done in the United States. [..]

This is crazy. The Republican message, in a nutshell, is this: “Weaken consumer protections or we’ll use filibusters to block the executive branch from enforcing existing federal law.” Our system of government simply can’t work this way. [..]

And since the White House has effectively run out of legal options, that leaves one of three possibilities: (1) a minority of the Senate, for the first time in American history, nullifies federal law by abusing filibusters; (2) a majority of the Senate reforms filibuster rules through the so-called “nuclear option”; or (3) public pressure forces the Senate minority to back down.

Something’s gotta give.

How’s that filibuster agreement working out for you, Harry?