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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) speaks at CPAC 2012
Sen. John Cornyn, proudly grinding the Senate to a halt.
So much for the Senate's kumbaya moment.
Rep. Mel Watt’s nomination to lead a key housing agency appears in peril. The top Judiciary Committee Republican is slowing down Obama’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is hinting at another talking filibuster—this time of the FBI director nominee—in order to get information on the president’s drone program.

Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was instrumental in reaching the deal with Majority Leader Harry Reid last week, said he would hold the nomination of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey to lead the Joint Chiefs of Staff until he gets more information on U.S. military intervention in Syria. [...]

In the words of the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas: “We are where we were before. Which is: It takes 60 votes.”

That's not even taking into account the three high-profile nominees for the D.C. Circuit, the nominations that have pushed the GOP into "peak Republican stupidity" by threatening not just to block the nominees, but to entirely do away with the three vacant seats on the court.

But Cornyn's wrong: We're not where we were before, because 51 Democrats—and Majority Leader Reid—were ready to pull the plug on the filibuster of nominations. Reid expressly did not make a promise to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to give up the nuclear option on these nominees. He left it lying there on the table, ready to use when necessary. Which means, if Republicans successfully block any of these nominees, it's because Democrats are allowing it.

There's pressure on Republicans, yes, to stop with the obstruction already. But now there's equal pressure on Democrats to make them stop. This isn't going to end until they do.

Tell your Democratic senators to keep filibuster reform moving, and to bring back the talking filibuster.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 09:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 09:58:56 AM PDT

  •  It's like listening to Top 40 radio... (9+ / 0-)

    Same damn song being played over and over again.

    Let's hope "We demand our say!" isn't followed up by "We promise not to do it again"

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:05:48 AM PDT

  •  I hate to say I told you so... (7+ / 0-) i won't say I told you so.  That said, I believe all the evidence points to Harry "Charlie Brown" Reid being in on the whole "pulling away the football" thing.  It's bread and circuses for the ignorant masses...

  •  The GOP wastes energy on this and not (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, shoeless, skod, OleHippieChick, eps62

    passing immigration reform.....while Univision conquered the recent TV ratings sweeps period, toppling NBC/FOX/ABC etc. to become the #1 network in that period.

    •  Point being (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, shoeless, micsimov, OleHippieChick, eps62

      They are too busy hating on Obama to work towards keeping their party relevant in federal elections.

      •  I truly do not believe that the GOP feels it has (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fat old man, shoeless, skod, claude, eps62

        to work toward keeping their party relevant.  I think they feel that they can, do, and will continue to win electoral control by suppressing the votes of all demographics except their own "base".  Why sweat it out on the ground, with door-to-door GOTV, when they can just use their legislative majorities to change the laws to keep their political foes from voting much more easily?

        All they need is to keep the money flowing from their rich, rightwing sugar daddies (Koch, ALEC, NRA, etc.) to finance the election of their own corporate Taliban lackeys at the local, state, and federal levels--ESPECIALLY judges, governors, the House, and probably the Senate in 2014.  That's pretty much all they need.  And, they appear to be doing this quite effectively.

        Of course, controlling the White House also would be the cherry on top.  But, they have proven that they can paralyze the entire country, economy, healthcare system and everything else just by obstructing action in the House.  The filibuster has taken care of any type of progress in the Senate.  The GOP state governors have proven enormously helpful in curtailing civil rights for minorities, women, LGBT, students, etc.

        They've been amazingly effective for an unbelievably long time.

  •  Who could have foreseen? nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shahryar, emal

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:24:18 AM PDT

    •  I think Reid did, which (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheLizardKing, shoeless, eps62

      is why he kept the nuclear option while getting those nominee through.  

      So I guess your comment is complimenting Reid.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by TomP on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:36:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You think he'll use it? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shoeless, eps62

        Reid's first priority is maintaining the comity of the Senate.  All else (governance, competence, representing his constituents, doing what's good for the country, etc.) are a distant not first.  

        Personally, I think this was McConnell's plan all along.  Give in, let a couple of the 51 democrats blow off steam (Reid is one of them), and then he's back to having less than 50 democrats fed up enough to actually enact filibuster reform.  Sure he would have liked more than the withdrawal of 2 NLRB nominees, but he still has the filibuster to use on everything.  

        War doesn't determine who is right, only who is left. Better be left so you can determine later if you were right.

        by Cendojr on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:46:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know. He got several nominess through (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheLizardKing, shoeless, scamperdo

          already.  It was worth it to me to see those nominess get in.

          My problem is that a real critique that has been true at times now is thrown out there no matter what the facts are.  

          Reid and the Dems did a good job last week with those nominees.

          Maybe they will or will not going forward, but there is too much knee jerk "I'm so smart I know Reid will screw us" stuff here.   Yet when those predictions turn out wrong (whihc they do sometimes), you hear crickets from the certain ones.   And then it starts up again.


          Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

          by TomP on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:54:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True. I like the noms through as well. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LuvSet, fat old man

            I just think it was somewhat naive to think "Obama nominations approved by Senate" would be a repeating trend without actually changing filibuster rules.  

            Or just, you know, when Sen _ says "I intend to filibuster this nominee" Sen Reid replies with "OK, start talking."  

            War doesn't determine who is right, only who is left. Better be left so you can determine later if you were right.

            by Cendojr on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:23:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, you must admit (0+ / 0-)

            The Democrats have a pretty ugly track record on this.
            Yes, getting those nominees through was good, and to my admitted astonishment Reid did not give up the option as part of the bargain.
            However we were reading all that day here that the filibuster is now reformed "really!" or that it was essentially dead now.  
            When it comes to knees jerking, that seems as good an example as yours.

      •  I do give Reid credit for that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shoeless, TheLizardKing

        Though I have strong doubts about him actually "pushing the button" on the nuclear option.

  •  I thought it was all the front pagers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Who insisted on telling us the filibuster was either reformed or essentially dead.
    I never had any such foolish notion.

  •  I'm tired of the 51 Reps = 60 Dems (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless, emal, OleHippieChick, eps62

    kabuki math they've performed over the past dozen years. If this was happening in any other country, it'd be called corruption and collusion.  

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:43:54 AM PDT

  •  How many times are we supposed to play this game (5+ / 0-)

    and end up with the same results? I have signed every damn petition, written many letters and made calls and nothing changes. Broken record.

    "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward R. Murrow

    by temptxan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:48:27 AM PDT

  •  Reid is no fan of Filibuster reform (0+ / 0-)

    He remains an obstacle.

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:49:21 AM PDT

  •  I find myself canceling many posts (7+ / 0-)

    too easy to make the obvious observations, in diary after diary.

    I'll let this one get through, though, just so I can remember the process.

    Dear NSA: I am only joking.

    by Shahryar on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:52:45 AM PDT

  •  Saving face? (4+ / 0-)

    Let's hope the GOP is grumbling and snorting and threatening just to save face after the debacle they suffered at the Democrats' hands.

    I hope I'm not wrong that this is just smokescreen.

    •  That would be nice (0+ / 0-)

      But in the end, it's the Democrats who have to make them play nice. If the Dems let them get away with this once again, like they have so many times before, the Republicans will have no reason to stop.
      Personally I think it's less a case of them "saving face," and more a case of "let's see if they really mean it." I wish I had any confidence that the Democrats really mean it.

  •  There might have been 51 THEN, what about NOW? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If there's anything todays Dem senators have shown, it's weakness and no stomach for a fight. I get the feeling if asked to stand up for REAL this time, they'll curl back up into that comfortable, well-worn fetal position - its far easier than taking a stand. Again, Reid blew his best chance. Boy if I only had a dollar every time that's been said.

    If you wanna join my gang punk you gotta be hardcore. *pulls out temporary tattoos* choose a tat, but don’t choose the kitty that one is mine

    by Fordmandalay on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:55:07 AM PDT

  •  The hell? Harry is befuzzled. Wha' hoppen? (0+ / 0-)

    "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

    by TofG on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:56:28 AM PDT

  •  Well yeah! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How many times does Harry Reid need to have the football pulled out from underneath him?

  •  How very like McCain (5+ / 0-)

    To want to hamstring the military so he can play armchair general and pretend to be commander in chief some more.

    Sit down, gramps.

  •  Is Kafka scripting this story? (nm) (3+ / 0-)
  •  the dems need (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a new leader in the senate, one that actually has a back bone and doesn't respect the gop more than those that elected him and the rest of gop light dressed as dems.

  •  Martin Dempsey's nomination to Chair (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...Joint Chiefs of Staff would be an excellent appointment to nuke the filibuster on Presidential appointments.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:19:11 AM PDT

    •  Or let them filibuster (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eps62, scamperdo

      And immediately go on the offensive with an information campaign about how 50+ Democratic Senators want the US Armed Forces to have a CoJCoS and the GOP doesn't.  

      War doesn't determine who is right, only who is left. Better be left so you can determine later if you were right.

      by Cendojr on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:24:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whispering: ::Pull the fucking pin, Harry.:: (0+ / 0-)

    "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes

    Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

    by OleHippieChick on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:19:24 AM PDT

  •  drone program (0+ / 0-)

    I'm OK with the Republicans doing a filibuster to extract more information about Obama's drone program.  And the Democrats ought to be doing the same.

    "They aren't coming for your guns, they are coming for your Social Security."

    by Eagleye on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:24:29 AM PDT

    •  Not quite (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eps62, dicentra

      I'm all for Congress holding the Admin's feet to the fire on the drone program -- through properly set-up committee hearings. I agree that there should be common ground between the libertarian right and the progressive civil liberties left on this. And quickly, please.

      I am not OK with playing extortion "do what we say or else" games with nominations to the Federal bench or to head key agencies -- unless the person being nominated has a direct responsibility for the program that you want to shine a spotlight on. Using someone's nomination to trash the President for something that the nominee has nothing to do with is just shameful.

  •  my (admittedly cynical) take is that (0+ / 0-)

    the Republicans are going to goad Reid and the Dems into serious F reform,  which will suit the Republicans just fine when they take back the Senate in 2014 or 16 as they expect to do.  They still have their House to keep the Dems from doing much effective with their new-found freedom from the Filibuster.

    Republicans have been known to get things wrong on other occasions...

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:28:43 AM PDT

  •  "Democrats are allowing it" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Call me crazy but it sure looked like that was what was happening before, that is, Democrats were allowing Republicans to obstruct, either because the obstruction was fine with them or because they were afraid.

    I guess I was wrong. It's from NOW ON that Democrats will be allowing Republicans to obstruct, either because the obstruction is fine with them or because they are afraid.

    Thanks for clearing that up for me, Ms McCarter.

    I suppose Dems might decide not to let Repubs obstruct. We'll see.

  •  Skepticism is warranted (0+ / 0-)

    But damn, folks — has Reid not earned even just a momentary reprieve from your scorn? No, he clearly does not want to go nuclear or do away with the filibuster, but at least he made some headway through the obstruction. Let's see what his next step is before chopping his head off.

    •  I don't lay all the blame at Reid's feet (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He can only do what he has the votes to do, and up 'til very recently, he didn't have them.
      I'm not sure he has them now.
      So, I remain skeptical that any real reform will come, but I blame the Democrats like Levin and Leahy as much as Reid.

  •  Filed under : who could ever have predicted (0+ / 0-)

    Did this even last 1 week.

    That said, I must admit at least the threat remains from Reid to go nuclear over this. Any bets on how many more days, weeks or months past before he threatens to use it again?

    I still say the old fashioned filibuster out of Mr. Smith goes to Washington days is the wtg. Make anyone get up there and speak forever if they really feel strongly and so righteous about their pet issue that they really insist on blocking. It would really make men out of a lot of these pampered elite clubby good ole boys. That would change quite a bit. I believe many don't have the will power or stamina to do something so personally inconveniently bold.

    But I digress...this is getting old really fast. Dysfunction is feature not a bug.

    Government of, for, and by the wealthy corporate political ruling class elites. We are the 99%-OWS.

    by emal on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:36:37 AM PDT

  •  Know any Republican abiding by their word? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  The Repubs - ONCE AGAIN - saw that the Dems (0+ / 0-)

    were paper tigers.  I said it before: there was no reason to "negotiate" when the the Dems held the winning hand without question.  They should have just gone ahead with the rule change.  They made the nuclear option a bargaining chip.  Sorta like swords into plowshares except the Repubs got to keep their swords.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 11:56:16 AM PDT

  •  This is me holding my breath that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Senate Dems actually vote to reform the excuse-maker, er, filibuster.

    "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

    by bryduck on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 12:00:53 PM PDT

  •  This is the test for Reid and the Dems (0+ / 0-)

    To my great astonishment and delight, Reid kept the option to go nuclear if the Republicans returned to their filibustering ways.
    Keeping that option means nothing if they are afraid to use it.
    This is a pretty blatant challenge to them from Cornyn and McCain.
    So, Senate Democrats, did you mean it or not?
    Are you going to allow this obstruction?
    We're watching.

  •  What remains to be seen... (0+ / 0-)

    is whether Majority Leader Reid has cojones to go nuclear if the obstruction of nominees to the Executive and the bench continues.

    Reid's past performance would say "no", since he appears to value the comity of the Senate over its effectiveness.

    "What's next?" - President Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing

    by shaf on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 12:48:40 PM PDT

  •  Bring back the talking filibuster? (0+ / 0-)

    Back in the day when the Senate had unlimited debate, perhaps making the individual Senator who wanted to hold things up actually hold the floor until his bladder gave out was a reasonable means of controlling abuse of the privilege.  

    But individual egotism is not the problem we face now.  Unlimited debate had to be abandoned about a century ago because small groups of Senators started tag-teaming the requirement to hold the floor, and with bathroom, meal and sleep breaks, just a handful could hold the floor indefinitely.

    Cloture, voting by some super-majority -- first by 3/4, then 2/3 and now by 3/5 -- could deal with the problem of organized abuse of the privilege by just a handful of Senators acting together.  Cloture can't deal with organized abuse by an entire party.

    The "talking filibuster" is a mistaken concept.  It confuses  a measure meant to control one Senator's privilege of unlimited debate with measures that might control an entire party's abuse of the filibuster.  Even if you structure the rules so that tag-teaming the requirement to hold the floor is not allowed, if 40+ Senators want something on the calendar killed, they can serially filibuster everything and hold the Senate calendar hostage unless they get their way.

    It's no longer the 19th Century.  The Senate is in session essentially year-round.  It has trouble getting its work done within its calendar even without the filibuster.  Allow any sort of filibuster and you give the minority the power to hold the calendar hostage, because there is no untapped source of extra days on the real-world calendar that the Senate has available to wait out 40+ individual Senators holding the floor serially to hold up every vote.

    Don't look at the idea of the "talking filibuster" as something mean and cruel we're going to do to make the other side pay a price for their obstructionism.  It's a tool we would be giving them to get that obstructionism done just as effectively as they obstruct now, only with some free media attached, a feature Rand Paul has already exploited successfully.  Don't throw them into that briar patch.

    The filibuster -- end it, don't mend it.

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 01:04:56 PM PDT

  •  There is less to the "deal" than meets the eye (0+ / 0-)

    The 'pubs haven't mended their ways and aren't going to.  The only solution involves, (1) retaining control of the Senate and increasing our majority if possible and (2) changing the rules on the first day the next Congress convenes.

    Yes, it's risky.  Yes, the 'pubs might be in the majority one day.  But failure to do this means the President might as well retire in 2014 and Congress can just adjourn, because they won't get anything accomplished.

    "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little. " --Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by jg6544 on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 03:09:56 PM PDT

  •  Yes, we are not going to let up on the Democrats. (0+ / 0-)

    There was a lot of back slapping and congratulating around here last week when a few of Obama's cabinet appointments were allowed to take their offices after much delay.  Some people here were acting as by threatening to reform the filibuster Reid had actually reformed it.  Well, he has not, and if you believe the Republicans are going to change their tactics anytime soon, you are in for a rude awakening.  What about Obama's judicial nominees, and the filibusters of legislation?  I will gladly applaud Sen. Reid and the Senate Dems when they utilize the power they've been given by the voters, show true leadership, make our democracy work--  reform the filibuster.  

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