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December 19, 2007

Conservative Minority Rules by Filibuster

-- by Dave Johnson

They aren't "about" governing, they're about getting their way. They're about handing over the people's funds and resources to a few rich corporate paymasters.

Unprecedented. Without precedent. Never before. All records broken. Every.Single. Piece. Of. Legislation. Blocked. Obstructed. No cooperation. Party-line votes. Record-breaking use of the filibuster for every bill.

Go read about it at Campaign for America's Future :: RECORD-BREAKING: SENATE CONSERVATIVES,

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.

And just WHAT is being obstructed?
What have conservatives obstructed this year? Here's just a partial list:

-- Ending the disastrous occupation of Iraq.

-- Providing health insurance to millions more kids.

-- Empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

-- Taking away handouts to Big Oil so we can invest in renewable energy.

-- Repealing the effective ban on embryonic stem cell research.

-- Investing more in health research.

-- Making it easier for workers to join unions.

-- Investing more in fighting poverty and training workers.

Posted by Dave Johnson at December 19, 2007 9:18 AM

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Comments

62 cloture votes. So what?

Most cloture votes are immaterial. What's important is the instances where a bill had majority support, but the minority blocked cloture.

So let's look at those 62 votes. Which ones mattered?

31 of those cloture votes succeeded in ending debate. (Presumably they were all followed by an up-or-down vote, but I didn't check. Counting these things takes time.)

10 of those cloture votes didn't even have a majority for cloture, which would indicate that the underlying measure didn't have majority support either.

That leaves 21 instances of cloture votes with majority support, but less than the 60 votes needed to end debate. In two of those instances, the Dems were the minority that blocked the bill.

So the key stat here is 19 bills for which the Congressional minority blocked cloture for a bill that would otherwise have passed. That's a lot fewer than 62.

Mind you, that's still a lot by historical standards. The Dem total for the 109th Congress (2005-06) was 14, and that was for both years combined. The GOP managed 19 in one year.

But the 62 cloture votes, by itself, is meaningless. CAF should have done a better job with this piece, rather than comparing meaningless numbers.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2007 10:38 AM

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