Fang points to this bit of information he found a few years ago on the website for the lobbying firm Endgame Strategies, pitching its ability to help clients find a "backbench Senate Republicans" willing to engage the filibuster on their behalf:
Managing Holds and Filibusters. Your organization has an interest in a bill that has proven controversial and you require advocacy before those legislators—often backbench Senate Republicans—who may exercise their prerogatives to delay or obstruct. Endgame Strategies will give you new ways to manage your interests in a legislative environment that gives great power to individual senators.As Fang says, Duffield (formerly an aide to Republican Sen. Jon Kyl) was in the business of selling filibusters, capitalizing on the power of individual senators by hooking up clients with useful Republican tools who would be happy to—often anonymously—block legislation for the highest bidder. Of course, there's something in it for those Senate tools, too:
-- Senator David Vitter (R-LA) placed holds on Obama EPA nominees to delay scientific assessments on the health risks of formaldehyde, which is produced by some of his largest campaign contributors.It's beginning to look like derailing President Obama's entire agenda is just gravy for Senate Republicans. Filibustering has turned out to be quite the racket for them. So much for principle.
-- According to a new report from Public Campaign Action Fund, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has collected a hundreds of thousands in funds from the same industries he has protected with filibusters, particularly from oil companies and the finance sector. McConnell has led filibusters to protect oil subsidies, to block efforts to mitigate the mortgage crisis, and against campaign disclosure reforms.
-- Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) placed a "blanket hold" on every Obama nominee to force the administration to accept a Northrop Grumman contract to build a $35 billion refueling tanker in Mobile, Alabama. Northrop Grumman is a major Shelby donor.
-- Senator John McCain (R-AZ) blocked the nomination of one of Obama's most important Department of Labor nominees for months, which many believe led to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to aggressively support McCain during a contentious primary with a Tea Party-backed candidate in 2010.
-- Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), a close ally of the oil and gas industry, temporarily blocked Obama's nominee for the Office of Management and Budget to extract an administration promise to allow more oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
-- Senator Bob Corker (R-AZ) [sic—R-TN] filibustered the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill in order to demand a policy that prevents FedEx drivers from unionizing. FedEx is Corker's third highest campaign donor.
Keep that in mind the next time you hear someone like John McCain—who worked with Democrat Carl Levin to create a watered-down, ineffective "reform" proposal—wax eloquent about hallowed Senate traditions and the high-minded ideals of preserving minority rights and comity in the institution.
Would David Vitter have stood on the Senate floor in front of C-SPAN cameras to argue for hours on the benefits of formaldehyde? Would McConnell do the same to argue for protecting the financial industry from defrauded mortgage holders? Or to spend hours supporting continued tax breaks and subsidies for Big Oil? They need to be put to that test.
It's time for a talking filibuster.