The story is familiar enough to be mind-numbing: Congress takes up an important policy issue; the House passes a popular bill, a majority of the Senate wants to pass the bill but Republicans won’t let the legislation come to the floor. The bill gets pulled, Congress’ approval ratings fall a little further, and everyone wonders how a measure that enjoys the support of a majority of the House, Senate, and electorate can’t reach the president’s desk. Rinse, repeat.
The NYT noted that Senate Republicans have become so reflexive in filibustering everything that moves that when Dems finally agreed to GOP demands on a bill to repair the alternative minimum tax last week, Republicans filibustered anyway — out of habit.
Kevin Drum responded with the right idea:
What bugs me about this is not the fact that the modern Republican Party doesn't really care about actual governance. This is hardly news. At this point, it's an exhausted organization so bereft of ideas that it really doesn't have much choice except to follow a policy of obstruction to its logical, nihilistic conclusion.
But why does the media have to play along? It's nice that the Times ran this story, but it would be nicer if the media simply reported what was happening on a regular basis.... If Republicans have adopted a strategy of simply blocking every piece of legislation that makes it to the floor of the Senate — and everyone agrees that they have — then we should be regularly seeing headlines that say "Republicans Block ______ "
And while we're at it, if Dems wanted to make Republicans actually filibuster, that might be helpful, too.