This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that's rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress.
Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.
Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office. Read more...
Remember the Nuclear Option? Here's Bill Frist from November, 2004 regarding the Democrats and Bush's judicial nominees:
Republicans say that Democrats have abused the filibuster by blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees in his first term -- although confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds in most cases the first-term experience of presidents dating to Ronald Reagan. Describing the filibusters as intolerable, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has hinted he may resort to an unusual parliamentary maneuver, dubbed the "nuclear option," to thwart such filibusters.
"One way or another, the filibuster of judicial nominees must end," he said in a speech to the Federalist Society last month, labeling the use of filibusters against judicial nominees a "formula for tyranny by the minority."
The Republicans clamored for an up or down vote on these judges and the Democrats caved. Why won't Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put the nuclear option on the table to stop the Republicans from thwarting the will of the American people and end our occupation of Iraq? If a handful of judges are worth invoking it, then the lives of our soldiers and the security of our country damn well should be...