I haven't been this pissed of at my party's timid leadership and its many timid members of congress in seven and a half years, when most Democrats foolishly voted to go to war in Iraq in September of 2002. Only this time it might prove to be even more disastrous for the country.

From the WaPo:

Senate nears approval of filibuster changes

This comes in reaction to a broader proposal from Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), both elected in 2008. Their key idea was a "talking filibuster": If the majority failed to get 60 votes, the minority would have to hold the floor with an old-fashioned "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"-style filibuster. Once the minority no longer had speakers to hold the floor, the Senate would move toward a final vote.

Such a proposal was considered too much change by all Republicans and many Democrats, particularly veteran Democrats who are fearful of altering rules now that would lessen their powers if they lose the majority in two years. "That's part of the minority's right, to extend the debate," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a 32-year veteran who supports more modest steps to alter the rules.

The key proposals would reform the practice of "secret holds," which let a single lawmaker delay even the most noncontroversial provisions; allow for hundreds of junior nominees to agencies to be confirmed without a floor vote, rather than be slowed by the logjam of the more than 1,000 positions that now require full Senate votes; and forbid the minority to force Senate clerks to read full legislative amendments, a tactic rarely used but one that Republicans temporarily forced during the 2009 health-care debate.

Never mind yesterday's NYT editorial in favor of the Merkley/Udall reforms:

Make Them Work for It

Senate Democrats now have a rare opportunity to reduce the abuse of the filibuster and increase the chances that the people’s work actually gets done. Instead, they are close to an agreement on a watered-down package of changes that will have only a modest effect on the chamber’s gridlock.

Never mind what Senator Tom Harkin says:

Tom Harkin wary of filibuster deal

"Well, anything is probably better than what we have now, but the question is, do you take a couple little baby steps that don’t really get to the heart of the matter?"
Harkin told POLITICO. "That’s what I consider most these to be, small baby steps. They don’t get to the heart of the matter."

Harkin was referring to a bipartisan plan developed by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would institute some reforms but leave the filibuster intact.

From Slate:

The Filibuster Reform Dream is Over

Tom Harkin, Jeff Merkley, and Tom Udall announce the failure of their plan to reform the filibuster with a "constitutional option." From the statement:

  After years of unprecedented obstruction and a historic rise in the use of the filibuster, the trio introduced a resolution on Jan. 5 – the first day of the new Congress – to restore genuine debate in the chamber and make the Senate more accountable.

   The reform proposal quickly gained support, earning 26 cosponsors on the day it was introduced. Support for the measure, however, stopped short of gaining the majority of votes necessary to move forward under the Constitutional Option and Senate Republicans objected to bringing the resolution to the floor for debate – a historically consistent and necessary first step to proceed.

   "Reform is not for the short-winded," said Udall. "After witnessing years of obstruction and abuse of the Senate rules, I first proposed the Constitutional Option last year to tackle the Senate’s dysfunction head-on with a simple majority vote. While I’m disappointed this body lacks the necessary will to enact truly substantive reforms, we have certainly succeeded in bringing reform to the forefront and shining a light on the sources of our dysfunction. In the long term, this fight is far from over and I’m committed making sure the Senate is more than just a graveyard for good ideas and we are able to address the challenges we face as a nation."

                                   THIS is a missed opportunity of historic proportions

Reid and his leadership clique have inexplicably decided to take make obstruction by Senate Republicans much easier than they needed to for the next two years.

This decision will affect the quality and quantity of legislation the Senate will produce for the next two years. The number of issues this will effect is mind numbing. Name your favorite issue, the highest priority for you personally, and Senate failure to reform the filibuster will almost certainly affect it.

So where does this leave Democrats in Congress? With a bunch of Democrats in the House who have no power, and a bunch of Democrats in the Senate who are frightened by their own shadows.

UPDATE: I just got a call from the DCCC asking for money. I told them that since Democrats won't even pass Filibuster Reform, how can I help them when they won't help themselves?

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 05:31 PM PST.


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