Monday, November 9, 2009

"A Cancer Growing Inside the World's Greatest Deliberative Body"

This weekend's House vote to pass historic health care reform legislation sends President Obama's central domestic policy priority sailing towards the legislative end zone. In addition, the House passed major energy/environment legislation earlier this year, another major Obama agenda item. Both bills now await consideration on the floor of the United States Senate. As we work to push our Senators to do the right thing on both bills, it would be wise to keep the recent comments offered by Chris Hayes in mind:
The filibuster has become a cancer growing inside the world's greatest deliberative body. What was once a rarely invoked procedural mechanism has metastasized and turned into a de facto supermajority requirement for any legislation. In the 103rd Congress (1993-94) there were forty-six votes on "cloture," the motion to override a filibuster and allow something to be considered on the floor. In the last Congress, the 110th, the first one in which Republicans were in the minority, there were a record 112. Even without the filibuster, our system already has more choke points where legislation can die than almost any other liberal democracy. It's rare for one party to control both houses of Congress and the White House, and to have as solid a majority as the Democrats currently do. But the filibuster confers such power on an obstinate minority that it distorts the relationship between elections and governance in a way that dangerously attenuates democracy itself.

Right wing obstructionists be warned: the progressive movement that elected President Obama and substantial majorities in both national legislative bodies will not be abide the subversion of democracy by an entrenched minority.

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