Challenging The Right’s Obstruction Strategy

“The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail … and so far it’s working for us.”

  —Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss.
   Roll Call, April 18

A partisan minority in the U.S. Senate has blocked legislation that would lower the price of prescription drugs for seniors, invest in alternative energy sources while cutting subsidies to oil companies, require U.S. soldiers get adequate rest and training at home between tours in Iraq, and empower employees to join together to form unions at work. Each of these enjoyed the overwhelming support of the American people, and majority support in both the House and Senate.

In all, Senate Republicans have launched 43 filibusters in the first seven months of the Congress, on a pace to triple the previous record. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has brazenly announced that every “controversial measure” will face a filibuster in the Senate, trampling majority rule to require 60 votes to cut off the filibuster. No longer can reforms be passed on a clean up-or-down majority vote in the Senate.

President Bush has vetoed legislation that would require him to end the occupation of Iraq and would allow stem cell research to go forward. Each of these enjoyed overwhelming support from the American people and passed the House and Senate. In all, the president has threatened 31 vetoes between May 1 and August 1, including a threat to legislation that will extend health care to millions of children, lower interest rates on student loans, and increase monitoring of food and other imports through our nation’s ports.

The Republican minority in the Congress is now planning to use this August recess to rail against the “do-nothing” Congress. Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., has reportedly distributed talking points about the failure of the Congress to get things done. Already the House and Senate minority leaders are trotting out laugh lines about the “post-office Congress” that does nothing but name post offices and launch divisive witch hunts against the administration.

This is akin to someone mugging the postman and then complaining that the mail isn’t delivered on time. In fact, the Bush White House and Republican minority have pursued a systematic and openly admitted strategy of obstruction.


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