I'm a cranky Democrat today. This headline in the Los Angeles Times deeply irks me: "Obama court pick withdraws, thwarted by Republicans in Senate." As does the quote from Obama I'll include in the story excerpt.
Former New York state attorney Caitlin Halligan, President Obama’s choice for the U.S. Court of Appeals here, withdrew her name Friday, defeated by the Republican minority in the Senate.
Halligan’s withdrawal is the latest example of how the GOP has employed the filibuster rule not only to block major legislation, but routine presidential appointments as well.
The D.C. Circuit decides significant challenges to federal regulations, including those on environmental protection and worker’s rights. Obama is the first president who has been unable to put a single judge on the court.
The Constitution says judges are to be nominated by the president and confirmed by a majority vote in the Senate. Halligan had the support of the Senate’s Democratic majority, but minority Republicans blocked a vote to confirm her. Under the Senate’s rules, it takes 60 votes to close debate and set a final vote.
Obama issued a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed that…a minority of senators continued to block a simple up-or-down vote on her nomination. The D.C. Circuit is considered the nation’s second- highest court, but it now has more vacancies than any other circuit court. This is unacceptable.”
Ooh! President Obama is deeply disappointed... he calls it unacceptable that he can't even get a vote on his nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court (along with other courts).
Now the Republicans who are abusing the filibuster will stop! They have to! Obama and Senate Democrats are deeply disappointed!
The not-so-GOP has been engaging in this sort of filibustering crap ever since Obama was elected. I've got a blog post record of how my crankiness over the filibuster has been festering for several years.
Elections are won by the candidate who gets the most votes. Control of the House and Senate is determined by which political party has the most candidates elected. But in the Senate, majority rule is dumped in the crapper.
Nowadays it takes 60 votes, rather than 51, for the Senate to do anything significant, because Republicans have decided that obstructionism is their best bet for making sure Obama is a one-term president.
"Majority rules." Makes sense to me. I can live with that. In both the House and the Senate.
Do away with the Senate's stupid filibuster custom where 41 out of 100 Senators have veto power over what legislation will be passed by Congress, and whether Presidential nominations of administration officials and judges will be confirmed.
Now, here we are in 2013, watching the Senate Republicans try to run out the clock on Obama's second term, so far successfully denying him the constitutional right to nominate judges and have the Senate confirm or reject them on an up-or-down vote.
Kudos to Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley for making such a recent valiant attempt to reform the stupid filibuster so senators at least have to stand up and talk about whatever they want to stop.
And anti-kudos to Senate President Harry Reid, plus other wimpy Democrats, who did essentially zilch about the Republican abuse of the filibuster.
I don't see why it's necessary at all. Do away with the whole damn thing. The Senate has a weird notion that it is the "world's greatest deliberative body." That's complete bullshit. There's hardly any deliberating going on.
There can't be, not when forty senators can prevent a vote on what's being deliberated.
I'm fine with respecting the will of the majority. This leads to what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls "skin in the game" in his book, Antifragile.
Meaning, if someone takes a stand, this position should bring that person rewards if it works out well, and penalties if it doesn't. If the Democrats pass legislation that turns out badly, they should be punished at the polls in the next election. Or re-elected, if voters like what has happened.
Same applies to Republicans. Let whoever has been entrusted by the American public with a majority in the Senate be able to pass legislation and confirm presidential appointments with a freaking majority vote.
What's wrong with that? Doing something is a hell of a lot better than doing nothing, because at least when you do something, you learn from the results. Gridlock is stupid politics, because no learning is going on.
If Senate Republicans don't like a bill, or a nominee, they can vote "no." If voters approve of that stand, they'll reward the GOP senators. If voters disapprove, they'll express their displeasure at the polls. But filibustering, preventing any vote from happening, that's cowardly "no skin in the game" politics.
It's failing to get in the ring and fight. It's wimpering, "I don't want a bout to happen, because I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose." Look: if you want to win votes in the Senate, win elections first. Again, this should apply to either Republicans or Democrats.
Democracy needs to be restored to the Senate. Until this happens, I'm going to continue to be an episodically cranky Democrat.