Obstructionist Republicans

The Holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with neighbors; we had 18 people over for Christmas Eve and I got an earful on the low approval rating for Congress.

But we need to remember, Democrats don’t have a veto-proof majority.  And Republicans are part of Congress too.  The 110th Congress set a dubious record this year; Republicans set a record for obstructing meaningful legislation.

See more after the flip:



New Report Shows How Conservative Minority Rules by Filibuster, Preventing Up or Down Vote on a Record Number of Bills

WASHINGTON—The Republican Senate minority today filibustered an omnibus budget bill, setting a modern-day record for blocking the most legislation during a congressional session. A new report released today by the Campaign for America’s Future details the 62 times conservatives have used the filibuster to block legislation (or force modification of bills) in the first session of the 110th Congress. In just the first year of this two-year Congress, their use of the filibuster in the Senate topped the previous record, reached during the entire 107th Congress. 

The new report outlines every bill filibustered, vetoed or threatened to be vetoed by President Bush. Conservatives filibustered bills to end the occupation of Iraq, provide soldiers in Iraq rest time equal to their deployments, support renewable energy and grant residents of the District of Columbia representation in Congress. Today’s record-breaker involved a $516 billion budget package passed by the House to fund the federal government in 2008. The conservative minority demanded $20 billion additional funding for the war and opposed House language to bring troops home, and threatened a filibuster to prevent the bill from getting an up or down vote.

“In just one session, a minority in Congress has prevented a mind-blowing 62 pieces of legislation from going to the floor for an up or down vote,” said Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey. “Our report shows how over and over again, the uncompromising minority has thwarted the will of majorities in Congress and of the American people, holding the Senate floor hostage to a radical right-wing agenda.”

Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. The 62nd cloture vote of the session is more than any single session of Congress since at least 1973, the earliest year cloture votes are available online from the Senate. Republicans are on pace to force 134 cloture votes to cut off a filibuster, according to the Campaign for America’s Future analysis, more than double the historical average of the last 35 years.

Even pieces of legislation that have made it past the Senate filibuster blockade have been obstructed by President Bush. Last week the President vetoed for the second time a popular bill that would expand health coverage for 10 million American children. According to the Campaign for America’s Future report, Bush has threatened to veto 84 bills and has vetoed six as of December 17. In contrast, during the period when the Republicans were in the congressional majority, Bush went the longest time without vetoing a bill since President Arthur Garfield.

Eric Lotke, Campaign for America’s Future research director and lead author of the new report, calls the obstruction a “deliberate strategy.” He observes that the congressional Republicans block legislation, then blame the Democrats for getting nothing done. “It’s like mugging the postman and then complaining that the mail isn’t delivered on time.”

The story of this historic level of obstruction has recently been covered by The New York Times, but has yet to be fully told in the media. The new Campaign for America’s Future report shows how major media outlets describe the 60-vote threshold as an ordinary procedure, neglecting that this tactic is an unprecedented assertion of minority control.



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NOTE: To obtain an electronic copy of the Campaign for America’s Future’s report, “Block and Blame: The Conservative Strategy of Obstruction in the 110th Congress,” please visit http://home.ourfuture.org/assets/block-and-blame.pdf