Sequester – John Boehner makes a strong case for filibuster reform

  • Published on March 4th, 2013
Mr. Smith calls for filibuster reform
Mr. Smith calls for filibuster reform

We’ve been telling you for several years that, unless we get serious filibuster reform, the broken Senate will never be able to pass anything that we care about – environmental legislation, clean energy, green jobs.

The Tea Partiers and their GOP allies have made it clear that if it’s something we support, they hate it, and they will obstruct the Senate from voting on it – even if it’s something their own presidential candidate proposed.

Consider this exchange from Meet the Press yesterday between GOP House Speaker John Boehner and David Gregory:

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Now listen, we’ve known about this for 16 months. And yet even today, there’s no plan from Senate Democrats or the White House to replace the sequester. And over the last 10 months, House Republicans have acted twice to replace the sequester. There are smarter ways to cut spending than these automatic across the board…

DAVID GREGORY: But Mr. Speaker that’s just not true. They’ve made it very clearly, as the president just did, that he has a plan that he’s put forward that involves entitlement cuts, that involves spending cuts, that you’ve made a choice as have Republicans to leave tax loopholes in place. And you’d rather have those and live with all these arbitrary cuts…

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, David that’s just nonsense. If he had a plan, why wouldn’t Senate Democrats go ahead and pass it?

Wow. Just wow.

What ACTUALLY happened last week?

  • Democrats tried to bring Obama’s plan up in the Senate.
  • It contained a mix of spending cuts and new revenue – not from tax increases, but from elimination of loopholes, the same program that Mitt Romney ran on.
  • And what did the GOP do? They filibustered it. So even though it had enough votes to pass, it failed.
  • At which point it was as if it had never even happened.

Imagine if liberal Democrats had invoked the filibuster to prevent the GOP from moving forward with a program that had bi-partisan support just four months ago. Imagine the howls of outrage from the media.

Never mind that, imagine if liberal Democrats tried to invoke the filibuster to, for instance, block the Keystone XL pipeline. Imagine the howls from the media.

Instead, here’s the situation we have:

  • The GOP howled when Senate Democrats proposed a simple reform – not to eliminate the filibuster, but to eliminate the painless filibuster as it’s currently practiced. 
  • Instead, Harry Reid caved to the GOP and agreed to a watered-down reform that didn’t actually require senators to put any EFFORT into blocking legislation.
  • The GOP turned around and went right back to obstructing.
  • The media continues to act as if that obstruction either doesn’t exist, or is just business as usual.

By way of comparison, there were 49 filibusters from 1919 (when the filibuster was first used) to 1970. Since the Democrats regained the senate in 2007, the GOP has filibustered 385 times.


About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.

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