— by Rhoda Averbach, October 1, 2010
Stop This Bill!
In January 2009, 11 days before President Obama’s inauguration, Republicans held a meeting to devise a strategy for winning back the White House – The Logic of Total Republican Opposition, by Jonathan Chait. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explained it this way:
It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of [a] bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is okay … It’s either bipartisan or it isn’t.
In fact, from January 3, 2009 through December 10, 2010, 132 cloture motions were filed to break a filibuster, skyrocketing under Republican minority leadership. List of Cloture Motions.
Here is a short, yet edifying, video masterpiece of what has become the United States Senate since Barack Obama became President through October 1, 2010. All the voices are from recordings of live Senate sessions.
I’ve linked to an article by David Waldman, Why we can’t have a real filibuster, which explains why “pulling out the cots” is not as easy as it sounds. However, after Republicans blocked the 2011 Defense Authorization Act, Sen. Carl Levin said support for filibuster reform has grown; no Democratic Senator, not even Ben Nelson, is outright opposed to changing the senate rules at the beginning of the next Congress in January 2011.
A SCORCHED EARTH POLICY TO BLOCK LEGISLATION
Disclose Act (Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act): Republicans blocked debate on whether it’s appropriate for unregulated corporate money to anonymously drown the voices of voters. The vote was 59:41.
Hypocrisy: “Public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate.” — Mitch McConnell (Similar statements were made by Sens. Jeff Sessions, Susan Collins, John McCain, Tom Coburn, el al.)
Sen. Max Baucus on September 29, 2010 called on the IRS to investigate political activity by non-profit groups, specifically the GOP-allied groups spending tens of millions of dollars raised from anonymous donations. Groups highlighted in reports cited by Baucus include Crossroads GPS, American Action Network and Americans for Job Security – all of which are so-called “social welfare organizations” registered under section 501(c)4 of the tax code.
National Defense Authorization Act 2011: Republicans blocked the Senate from debating a bill to fund combat vehicles, bulletproof vests and other measures, and to give pay raises to help troops and their families. This is the first time in 48 years that the defense authorization bill has been voted down. Also included in the bill are:
1. Language to eventually repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; and 2) an amendment to pass the DREAM Act (to be offered). The Act would ensure that millions of children who grow up as Americans will be able to get the education they need to contribute to the economy; and that men who have volunteered for the military could finally become citizens.
The Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act: Republicans blocked a bill to create a payroll tax break for companies that hire U.S. workers in place of foreign workers; and which would also raise taxes for companies that move jobs and plants overseas.
Every time Republicans are given a choice between supporting middle-class families … or protecting CEOs and special interests, they choose to stand with the wealthy and the powerful. That is their choice. And while they do not have to answer to me for their choices, they will have to answer to the millions of American workers who lost their jobs because of companies sending jobs overseas. – Sen. Harry Reid
More GOP No Votes on Bills That Create Jobs:
95% No: Small Business Jobs Act
93% No: Preventing Layoffs of Teachers and First Responders (FMAP)
68% No: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act
93% No: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
100% No: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
43% No: Travel Promotion Act
83% No: Cash for Clunkers
93% No: Unemployment Insurance Extension
100% No: Small Business Jobs and Credit Act
98% No: American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Fund (TANF): Republican Sen. Mike Enzi blocked a key component of the Recovery Act – a fund which subsidizes the creation of jobs with private companies, nonprofits, and government agencies. Previously, the fund had put more than 240,000 unemployed people back to work in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Food Safety Modernization Act: Republican Sen., Doctor Tom Coburn, blocked legislation that would give the FDA more power to recall tainted products, increase inspections of food processors and require producers to follow stricter standards for keeping food safe. This follows the recent egg recall in Iowa. Included was an amendment by Sen. Jon Tester to protect small and local farms.
Lawsuit Settlements for Minority Farmers and Native Americans: Republicans blocked the fully paid for and long overdue settlement of lawsuits for minority farmers and Native American trust account holders – for the sixth time this year.
Securing justice for those who have been wronged should never be a partisan issue … Senator Coburn is just the latest face of what appears to be an intentional effort by Republicans to deny justice to black farmers and Native American trust account holders. Their opposition is a transparent sham. – Sen. Harry Reid
Wildlife Protection Bills: Republican Senator Tom Coburn blocked the following wildlife protection bills on September 29, 2010, arguing that lawmakers should have higher priorities than focusing on animals:
1. Crane Conservation Act
2. Great Cats and Rare Canids Act
3. Shark Conservation Act
4. Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act
National Women’s Museum (by private funding): Republican Sen. Tom Coburn blocked the building of a National Women’s Museum because, he said, women’s issues were “already covered by institutions like the Quilters Hall of Fame, a Cowgirl Museum, and the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens.”
Subpoena Power for BP Oil Spill: Republicans blocked the Presidential Commission on the BP oil spill from having subpoena power to conduct the investigation. Blocking subpoena power in disaster investigative commissions is unheard of. Senate Republicans gave no explanation. (9/27/2010)
Pledged US Aid to Haiti: Unspeakably abhorrent, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn blocked nearly $1.2 billion for reconstruction aid to Haiti earthquake victims. Coburn’s spokeswoman explained “the reason he is holding up the bill is because he objects to the creation of a senior Haiti coordinator, a position that would cost $5 million over five years.” See, Coburn holding up millions of dollars in aid to Haiti
9/11 Responders Bill: Senate Republicans blocked a bill to provide up to $7.4 billion in health care benefits and compensation to sick first responders of the 9/11 attacks.
This vote is about being an American, because from the days at Bunker Hill, when the patriots put down their plows and took up their muskets to defend and create our freedom, we always tried to take care of them. We have done it again and again for our veterans, and the heroes of 9/11 are no different. — Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY
The bill was voted down in the House by Republicans who argued the bill is too costly and could lead to increased abortions — gripes the measure’s supporters say have no basis in reality and are just excuses to kill the popular bill.
James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — The Real Reason It Was Filibustered
See also: Signed Into Law
“The five-year, $4.3 billion measure will provide medical treatment for emergency responders sickened by toxic dust inhaled at the World Trade Center site in New York in the days following the attacks …”
Food Safety Modernization Act
“The bill, designed to increase government inspections of the food supply in the wake of recent deadly food borne disease outbreaks, originally passed with wide support in the both chambers … Tom Coburn (R-OK) has said he opposes the bill because, he claims, it spends billions and increases government regulations without actually making the food supply safer.”
It finally passed in the lame duck session: Obama to Sign Bill to Improve Nation’s Food Safety
“Students in graduation caps sat in the gallery to watch the vote, most of whom have spent months advocating for the DREAM Act.” The vote was 55-41. Three Republican senators voted in favor: Lugar, Murkowski and Bob Bennett; but six Democratic senators did not: Ben Nelson, Pryor, Tester, Baucus, Hagan and Manchin. Were it not for the “required” super-majority, the bill would have passed.