Nov 212013

It’s about time.

Senate smacks down filibuster

After years of Republican obstructionism, Senate Dem[ocrat]s have had enough.

The upper chamber of Congress voted on Thursday to deploy the so-called “nuclear option” to change the rules of the Senate. The move now clears the way for Obama’s judicial nominees who were being blocked by Republicans.

On a 48-52 vote, the Democrats voted to officially go nuclear. A “no” vote was a vote to change the rules.

Just three Democrats sided with the Republicans, including Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

On the Senate floor, Reid said the “need for change is obvious,” pointing to the GOP’s pattern of filibustering on matters that should be routine, like green-lighting judges.

“In the history of the Republic, there have been 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations. Half of them have occurred during the Obama Administration – during the last four and a half years,” said Reid.

This should have been done four years ago.

President Obama had this to say about the Senators’ actions today:

A transcript of the President’s remarks follows the break.

Here is Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arguing for the nuclear option way back in 2005 when he was Senate Majority Whip. Complete opposite of what he is saying today. What a difference a Democratic president makes.

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Jun 272013

The United States Senate approved an immigration reform bill today. However, it has little to no chance of passing (or even getting a vote) in the Republican controlled House of Representatives.

Senate approves comprehensive immigration bill

The contentious bipartisan effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws achieved a decisive victory Thursday when the Senate approved legislation that would allow millions of illegal immigrants the chance to live legally in the United States and to eventually become U.S. citizens.

The 1,200-page bill, which now faces a stern test in the Republican-controlled House, carries a $50 billion price tag. It would double the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southern border and require the construction of 700 miles of fencing there. It also would place new burdens on employers, who would be required to check the legal status of all job applicants using the government’s E-Verify system.

Senators approved the plan 68 to 32, capping more than six months of negotiations that began behind closed doors and concluded with almost a month of debate on the Senate floor. Fourteen Republicans voted with every member of the Senate Democratic caucus to approve the bill — an impressive bipartisan margin in a chamber that has become sharply partisan.

“Before the American people give up on the Congress, look at what we achieved today in a bipartisan fashion,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a key member of a group of Democrats and Republicans who wrote the bill.

But the path ahead is likely to be increasingly acrimonious because the bill is now in the hands of the House, where intense GOP opposition threatens to kill it outright.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday laid down stern conditions for what kind of immigration bill he would allow the House to vote on, and it was not the one that came of out the Senate.

Boehner said that any bill would need majority support among his GOP colleagues before it could get a vote in the House. “For any legislation, including a conference report, to pass the House, it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members,” he said. Recent history suggests that assembling such a majority will be difficult to achieve.

The 14 Republican Senators who voted with the Democrats in favor of the bill were: Marco Rubio (Fla.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Jeffrey Chiesa (N.J.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), and John McCain (Ariz.).

Jun 042013

President Obama announced his nominations to fill the three vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit this morning…

Can you tell he’s just a bit ticked off?

So one of the most important responsibilities of a President is to nominate qualified men and women to serve as judges on the federal bench.

And Congress has a responsibility, as well. The Senate is tasked with providing advice and consent. They can approve a President’s nominee or they can reject a President’s nominee. But they have a constitutional duty to promptly consider judicial nominees for confirmation.

Now, throughout my first term as President, the Senate too often failed to do that. Time and again, congressional Republicans cynically used Senate rules and procedures to delay and even block qualified nominees from coming to a full vote.

As a result, my judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor. Let me repeat that: My nominees have taken three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor. These individuals that I nominate are qualified. When they were given an up or down vote in the Senate — when they were finally given an up or down vote in the Senate, every one of them was confirmed. So this is not about principled opposition. This is about political obstruction.

Complete transcript follows the break.

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Nov 032011

Republicans continue to be their obstinate, obstructionist selves…

Republicans block another part of Obama jobs plan

(Reuters) – Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a $60 billion White House proposal to repair crumbling bridges, highways and other transportation systems as President Barack Obama’s job creation agenda hit another obstacle in Congress.

All 47 Senate Republicans, one Democrat and one independent voted against a piece of Obama’s $447 billion stimulus plan that would have helped construction workers — some of the hardest hit after the housing meltdown and economic downturn. The bill needed 60 votes to advance in the 100-seat Senate.

Construction workers face a jobless rate of 13.3 percent, according to the Labor Department, far above the nationwide rate of 9.1 percent.

Obama’s jobs plan is effectively dead in Congress, but Democrats are forcing Republicans to vote on it piece by piece as both sides dig in their heels before 2012 presidential and congressional elections in which the economy is expected to be a defining issue.

“It’s more clear than ever that Republicans in Washington are out of touch with Americans from all ends of the political spectrum,” Obama, who is in France for the G20 summit, said in a statement after the bill was blocked…

The bill, co-sponsored by [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid, would have spent $50 billion to upgrade roads, airports, bridges, rail lines and transit systems. It would have also allocated $10 billion in loan funding to underwrite a financing institution, or infrastructure bank, to help pay for priority projects.

It was the second time Democrats were unable to muster the votes needed to pass a piece of the Obama administration’s jobs package. In October, Republicans rejected a $35 billion plan designed to create or maintain 400,000 jobs for teachers, firefighters and police officers.

We will never know whether anything President Obama wants to do to rescue our economy will work because the Republicans continue to block his every move. After all, they believe it will be to their advantage in next year’s election if the economy stays in the toilet. The joke, I think, will be on them. Americans are getting wise to their games. (You are, aren’t you?)



No default tonight

 Posted by at 11:56  Politics
Aug 022011

Much to the chagrin of the Tea Party Republicans, the Senate approved the debt ceiling/deficit reduction plan by a vote of 74 to 26 today. It now goes to President Obama for his signature. The United States will not go into default at midnight tonight. Still, though…


Update: Text of remarks by the President following the Senate vote after the break.

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The tantrum continues

 Posted by at 14:20  Politics, Republicans
Jul 302011

And so the temper tantrum continues…

Congressional leaders struggle to work out bipartisan debt deal

With just three days to go before Congress’s deadline to raise the debt ceiling and avoid sending the country into default, leaders continued to struggle Saturday to work out a bipartisan deal that can pass both chambers and be signed into law by President Obama.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a letter Saturday afternoon to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), signed by 43 Republicans, declaring that Reid’s debt-limit legislation was unacceptable.

Needing 60 votes to clear a filibuster hurdle, Reid’s current draft is assured of failure in a 1 a.m. vote Sunday. McConnell demanded that President Obama re-engage in negotiations. “It isn’t going to pass,” McConnell said Saturday in a floor speech. “Let’s get talking to the administration.”


UPDATE: The Senate vote that had been scheduled for 1 a.m. Sunday morning has now been moved to 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The clock is ticking.

Jul 272011

Things are turning surreal in Washington this week. It seems that the Republicans are splitting apart while the Democrats are coming together. I don’t know quite what to make of it. Here’s the NYT on Boehner’s woes:

With G.O.P. Unity at Risk, Boehner Tries Tougher Style

John Boehner
John Boehner

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner is a laid-back leader who likes to say that his role is to let the House work its will. But with the nation’s economic standing and his own political future at risk, Mr. Boehner jettisoned his usual laissez-faire approach on Wednesday.

“I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me,” Mr. Boehner declared at a private party meeting, according to some House members. He demanded the fealty of conservatives who were threatening to sink his budget proposal and deny him the chance to confront the Senate with a take-it-or-leave offer on a debt ceiling increase.

(That’s President Obama to you, sir.)

Meanwhile, every member of the Democratic caucus in the Senate — including Independents Lieberman and Sanders — signed a letter to Mr. Boehner today assuring him that his plan would be dead on arrival in the Senate and urging him to seek a more sensible and realistic solution:

Speaker John Boehner U.S. Capitol, H-232 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner,

With five days until our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis, we need to work together to ensure that our nation does not default on our obligations for the first time in our history. We heard that in your caucus you said the Senate will support your bill. We are writing to tell you that we will not support it, and give you the reasons why.

A short-term extension like the one in your bill would put America at risk, along with every family and business in it. Your approach would force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months. Every day, another expert warns us that your short-term approach could be nearly as disastrous as a default and would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating. If our credit is downgraded, it would cost us billions of dollars more in interest payments on our existing debt and drive up our deficit. Even more worrisome, a downgrade would spike interest rates, making everything from mortgages, car loans and credit cards more expensive for families and businesses nationwide.

In addition to risking a downgrade and catastrophic default, we are concerned that in five or six months, the House will once again hold the economy captive and refuse to avoid another default unless we accept unbalanced, deep cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security, without asking anything of the wealthiest Americans.

We now have only five days left to act. The entire world is watching Congress. We need to do the right thing to solve this problem. We must work together to avoid a default the responsible way – not in a way that will do America more harm than good.


Only five days left before default. Five. Days.

The Republicans own this one. Lock, stock and barrel.

Jun 222011

By george, I do believe the Democrats may be finally getting it…

Democrats Explicitly Call Out GOP For Sabotaging The Economic Recovery

They’ve made it explicit. Democrats are accusing Republicans of trying to sabotage the recovery — or at least stall it — by blocking all short-term measures to boost the economy, even ones they previously supported.

In a Capitol press conference Wednesday, the Senate’s top Democrats argued that Republicans don’t want to pass measures like a temporary payroll tax holiday for employers because they’ll improve President Obama’s re-election chances.

“Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The harshest denunciation came from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the man who crafted the Dems’ new “jobs first” message.

“We are also open to hiring incentives, perhaps in the form of a payroll tax cut for employers that was floated by the administration…. [T]hat might not be our first choice, that shows how willing we are to work with the Republicans to create jobs. It’s pro-business, it’s a tax cut, and many Republicans have been for it in the past. But now all of a sudden they’re coming out against it,” Schumer said.

John Boehner called it a gimmick, Paul Ryan called it sugar high. Lamar Alexander and Jeb Hensarling both criticized it as short-term stimulus — apparently that’s a bad thing. Would Republicans really oppose a tax cut for business that created jobs? This is sort of beyond the pale. So if they’d oppose even something so suited to their tastes ideologically, it shows that they’re just opposing anything that would help create jobs. It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.

It’s not like there haven’t been enough hints already. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say way back in October of last year:

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.


Come on, Democrats, get with the program!

May 252011

Forty Republicans in the United States Senate voted today in favor of the Ryan budget plan. They voted to end Medicare. The only Republicans to vote against ending Medicare were Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) did not vote. The Snowe and Brown votes were most likely influenced by the fact that they are both up for reelection next year. Paul voted no because he didn’t believe the spending cuts in the Ryan plan were deep enough.

Remember that, folks. Forty Republican Senators voted today to end Medicare. They are sure to put some sort of spin on this vote to make it seem more palatable, but the simple fact is that forty Republican Senators voted today to end Medicare.

Last month, all but four Republicans in the House of Representatives also voted to end the medical insurance plan that is keeping so many of our senior citizens alive and well today.

Remember all their talk of “pulling the plug on Grandma” in the campaign of 2010? Who’s hands are pulling on that plug now?

P.S. The Senate also voted on the Obama budget plan that was presented in February. It failed 0 to 97. Nobody voted for it because it has since been superseded by new plans from the White House and is therefore outdated. The vote on it was simply procedural and a means to get it off the calendar.

Dec 092010

Republicans continued their obstructionist ways today in the United States Senate. First, they blocked the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. John McCain and bigots everywhere are still celebrating that one. Then, in a move I am still trying to understand, they defeated a measure that would have provided medical care to rescue workers and others who became ill as a result of working at the site of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. Their argument for this was that the bill would have cost about seven billion dollars and was not paid for. They have no problem providing the richest Americans with $700 billion in tax cuts that are not paid for, but they are going to scream about $7 billion going toward health care for the 9/11 responders?

And people wonder why I don’t particularly care for Republicans.