Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Proof of Republican Obstruction Tactics

Yesterday, Senate Republicans provided simple proof that their tactics in the Senate are simply to obstruct the Democratic majority and President Obama. Senate Democrats had to call for cloture on the nomination of Barbara Milano Keenan to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Recall that cloture is the process by which a filibuster can be ended. While it only takes a simple majority to confirm a nominee or pass a bill, it takes 3/5 (60 votes) to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) (the same Senator who filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits and whined about missing the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game to continue that filibuster) filibustered her nomination. The Democrats sought and were able to invoke cloture by a vote of … get ready … 99-0. That’s right: Every single Republican who voted* — including Sen. Bunning — voted to invoke cloture and end the filibuster.

Sen. Bunning could have ended or withdrawn his filibuster without forcing the invocation of cloture. But by forcing a vote to invoke cloture, Sen. Bunning was able to force the Senate to schedule an additional vote with the corresponding time for additional debate, which in turn delays work and votes on other matters.

So what can we infer about the motives of a Republican filibuster that has no supporters, including that of the Senator who initiates the filibuster? I think that it is safe to infer that the motive had nothing whatsoever to do with the qualifications of the nominee; furthermore I also think that it is fair to infer that the reason for the filibuster, if not based on the nominee’s qualifications, must have been pure and simple obstructionism. Is that really how we want our government to work?

*The only Senator not voting was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) who was in Texas yesterday for the state’s primaries.

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