Archive for Jeff Merkley

"The Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party definitely are showing that they have growing influence"

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elizabeth warren wing of dem partyPhoto credit: Tim Pierce

As I said in this post, for medical reasons (and unfortunately, more have arisen) I have to cut back, so I'll be posting much less often. This is one of those times when I felt compelled to jump in, because this is positive news, something we all need to jolt us out of our constant state of frustration with Washington DC.

It comes via the Los Angeles Times in an article that explores the recent move by Senate Democrats that changed the filibuster rules:

After pushing through one of the most significant rule changes in Senate history, Majority Leader Harry Reid struck a solemn tone: "This is not a time for celebration."

I understand but disagree. In a sense, it is time for celebration. We can celebrate the recent infusion of a few stiffer spines to the Democratic party, as in: not caving on the GOP government shutdown fiasco.

And we can celebrate the Democrats actually acting on their more-than-justified, long overdue resolve to end filibusters against most presidential nominations. Kudos Dems, you threw cold water all over the endless sabotage by Senate Republicans and their incessant obstruction that created a dysfunctional, do-nothing government. Or as I like to call it, Democracy Demolition.

Now it looks like there's more good news in our future:

Next on their agenda is extending the filibuster rule change from presidential appointments to legislation, which would enable the Senate to move on issues including gun control and climate change. [...]

"The Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party definitely are showing that they have growing influence in the caucus, and in government in general," said Matt Wall of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group that works to promote progressive candidates and issues in Democratic primaries. On Friday, Warren circulated a fundraising letter to supporters on behalf of Merkley and Udall, thanking them for their role in changing the rule.

So yes, there are a few positive outcomes after the years and years of blocking, dirty tricks, and efforts to derail and destroy President Obama and the Democratic agenda. Hopefully, a gobsmacked GOP is getting a taste of things to come.

gobsmacked 2

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Senator Durbin: Democrats lack votes to pass talking filibuster reform

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mr smith goes to washington

Yesterday Harry Reid told the Senate GOP to cut a filibuster deal in 36 hours or face the nuclear option. Everyone on Twitter was so excited! Except me. I hoped, I yearned, I wished, but I didn't expect the Dems to come through, because when it comes to filibuster reform, the Dems never come through.

Today's comments by Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin are making me want to tear my hair out... again. Apparently, the talking filibuster is out.

What's the talking filibuster? It's when members would be required to actually stand and speak on the floor. No more ducking personal responsibility, no more “silent filibusters,” no more giving obstruction a pass.

Now Durbin is saying that Democrats do not have enough votes for the most effective part of the Merkley proposal.

Harry Reid's "deal" with Mitch McConnell would "prohibit filibusters on motions to proceed, address rules for sending bills to conference, and reduce the floor time required for nominees once the Senate has voted to end debate on them." But no talking filibuster.

The Hill:

But Reid does not have 51 votes to make the rules change that liberals say is most important: requiring senators who want to filibuster legislation to actively hold the floor and debate. If senators seeking to block business fail to continuously hold the floor, the matter could advance by a majority vote.

I would say the talking filibuster at this point does not have 51 votes,” said Durbin.

Once again, my doubts were confirmed. Dems, you did it again.

At least you're consistent.

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VIDEO ADDED: Harry Reid to Senate GOP: Filibuster deal in 36 hours or face nuclear option

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just do it smaller

Video added, via CBS.

Harry Reid can, and may very well, change Senate rules using a simple majority vote, aka The Nuclear Option, which, by the way, would be a first. It's never been done. Democratic Senator Tom Udall calls it the “Constitutional option” because the Constitution allows each chamber to set its own rules.

Reid says that he and Mitch McConnell are not close to a resolution, and McConnell can't seem to get enough Republican votes to support any deal he could strike with Reid.

I don't know about you, but I've called Harry Reid's office more than once to push him on the Merkley filibuster proposal, the one that calls for a "talking filibuster" in which members would be required to actually stand and speak on the floor. No more ducking responsibility, no more "silent filibusters," no more easy-peasy obstruction.

Via The Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is giving Republican colleagues 36 hours to agree to a deal on filibuster reform or he will move forward with the nuclear option. [...]

Reid predicted the Democratic caucus would support him in reforming the Senate’s filibuster rule unilaterally.

Just do it.

mitch mcconnell filibuster cartoon get rid of Obama

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VIDEO: Hope for Progressives: Sen. Merkley optimistic filibuster reform will pass this year.

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Recently I posted Filibuster reform: “Looks like it’s on.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been promoting the idea, plus half of the 2013 Senate now supports some form of filibuster reform, and Reid said that in the next session of Congress he’d do what he could to break the obstructive GOP filibuster habit.

Before anyone on either side panics, let's remember what Greg Sargent wrote:

Filibuster reform would not do away with the minority’s ability to filibuster. The “talking filibuster” reform and the nixing of the filibuster on the motion to proceed would only make it harder to use procedural tactics, under cover of darkness, for the explicit purpose of stalling the Upper Chamber’s business. The minority would still be able to block the will of a simple majority on the vote to end debate. These are not very meaningful restrictions on the “rights” of the minority. At any rate, now that Reid has made such a vocal push, it’s hard to imagine that Dems won’t move forward on day one of the new session to change the rules with a simple majority vote. Looks like it’s on.

Oh, it's on. Especially if Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has anything to say about it. In fact, he does. He has a few more tricks up his sleeve, in addition to eliminating the minority’s ability to filibuster the same bill more than once and requiring a senator to speak on the floor in order to maintain a filibuster. He wants to prevent the minority from "forcing up to 30 hours of floor time to be wasted even after a supermajority of the Senate votes to break a filibuster on a nominee."

Via Think Progress, he also wants to:

...require the “minority to have to show that they have 41 senators who want to continue” with a filibuster. Thus shifting the burden from the majority to the obstructionists.

In a similar vein, Merkley also called for the minority to show a minimal amount of support before a filibuster could occur. Currently, it takes 60 votes to get nearly anything done in the Senate, but it takes 100 votes to get anything done without enormous amounts of delay. Merkley would address this problem by requiring 5 to 10 senators to sign a “petition to start a filibuster” before such delay could occur. This would have the added bonus of placing those senators on record as the ones responsible for a filibuster, rather than permitting the kind of secrecy that pervades the Senate now.

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VIDEO- Senator: "Mark this date on your calendar. January 5th..." to change the filibuster rules

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Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) was on The Rachel Maddow Show to explain his proposal to reform the Senate's rules on the first day of the 112th Congress.

Now Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is jumping in. Via Think Progress:

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) laid out a path to fundamentally change the way the filibuster works. Merkeley told [Thom] Hartmann to “mark this date on your calendar: January 5th. That’s the date we’re going to come in for the next Congress, and it’s on that date that a group of us is trying to pass a motion for the Senate to adopt new rules.” [...]

Merkeley writes that he would “require a specific number of Senators — I suggest five for the first 24 hours, 10 for the second 24 hours, and 20 thereafter — to be on the floor to sustain the filibuster. This would be required even during quorum calls. At any point, a member could call for a count of the senators on the floor who stand in opposition to the regular order, and if the count falls below the required level, the regular order prevails and a majority vote is held.”

Tom Harkin has expressed his frustrations about the filibuster previously. I wrote about it back in February in a post called "Restoration of majority rule": Tom Harkin, Jeanne Shaheen eye filibuster reform:

Harkin proposes a new procedural model: the first go-around, the minority could demand a 60-vote majority, as is the case now. But if 60 votes aren’t there to end debate, a week or so later, 57 votes could bring the bill to the floor for a vote. If 57 votes aren’t there, it drops again and again, and after a month or so, a bare majority could approve cloture.

Here is a more recent statement:

"...Get rid of the filibuster once and for all..." (starts at about 3:18)

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Finally! Junior Democrats Want a Fight

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By GottaLaff

http://manmadequilts.com/A101.gif

Bravo! Kick some butt, "juniors":

Junior Senate Democrats are pushing their leaders to take a much more aggressive stance toward the Republican minority, arguing that their defeat of Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-Ky.) unemployment benefits blockade this week proves a strategy of an active offense is far better than a passive defense.

Here is a list of those who have a-- What's it called again? Oh yeah-- spine:

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and other members of the 2006 and 2008 classes... plus, Dick Durbin supports them. So does Harry Reid, and so do other newly spined Dems.

Who spiked their Geritol with courage juice? And hey, keep drinking:

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses have long been dominated by senior members of the party, but Whitehouse and his colleagues have the ear of Durbin, who was the leader of Thursday’s floor fight with Bunning.

A senior leadership aide praised Durbin’s work with the chamber’s backbenchers — not only in halting the filibuster, but in turning the controversy into a political liability for Republicans. [...]

Observers said the junior Senators were brought together by their relatively short terms in the Senate — and a shared sense that their party has allowed Republicans to bully the majority too often over the past three years.

A "sense" that they've been bullied? A "sense"? Gee, with powers of perception like that, the Dems are bound to stay in power.

And in another three years, they may discover that the GOP lies, too!

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Sen. Jim Bunning holds up unemployment insurance and Cobra extensions on Senate floor: 'Tough s--t'

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Fun starts about 422. I didn't get a chance to listen to all of it for the cussing, so let me know in comments if you can hear it. Bunning should get together with McCain and they could start a Cranky Old Farts Club.

Senate Democrats spent Thursday night hammering away at Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) for single-handedly holding up action in the upper chamber – but he blurted out a message to one of them on the Senate floor: “Tough s—t.”

In an unusual display in the normally sleepy chamber, Bunning – without the support of GOP leadership – has blocked efforts to quickly approve a series of extensions to measures that would otherwise expire Sunday, including unemployment insurance and the Cobra program that allows people who lose their health benefits to continue getting coverage.

And that has led to a furious exchange on the floor, with Democrats attacking the senator, who has refused to relent on his objection, in unusually harsh terms.

In a colloquy with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Jeff Merkley, a freshman Democrat from Oregon, was pleading for Bunning to drop his objection, when the Kentucky Republican got fed up.

“Tough s—t,” Bunning said as he was seated in the back row, overheard by the floor staff and others in attendance.

A spokesman for Bunning did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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