Bunning, the filibuster, and being bad at playing cards

I’ve got my fingers crossed that this is going to start a trend. One that will put an end to the Grand Ol’ Party’s filibuster-fueled stranglehold on our legislative process.

So we’ve got Jim Bunning. The former MLB pitcher has made some waves recently by blocking an extension on unemployment benefits. After all, if you’re in a recession that’s costing jobs, obviously the one thing to do that won’t piss off everyone is shut down unemployment insurance. That’s just simple stuff, there.

Well the Dems have had enough, and they’ll let him filibuster, sure. All goddamn night if he wants.

“We’re not having four votes,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday following a weekly Conference luncheon in which Democrats rejected the GOP offer. Although Reid and his colleagues are willing to allow one vote on a pay-for — the original agreement Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) cut last week — they see no reason to go further in mollifying Bunning.

Although no final decisions have been made, Democrats confirmed it is increasingly likely that Democrats will force Bunning into an actual filibuster of unemployment insurance extension Tuesday night by repeatedly offering up unanimous consent agreements to bring the bill to a vote.

The thing is, we may have hit a “tipping point” of sorts. Over the past few years, the Republicans have been filibustering like it was going out of style, using it as the insta-stopper on everything and anything that they felt would be advantageous to block, either because they disagreed with it or because they felt that doing so would look good on the 2010 campaign trail.

It looks like they’ve overplayed their hand, though. The Republicans have been playing a severely shortsighted game for a while, hoping to reap rewards in the current news cycle without considering what will happen down the road. Nonstop filibustering might seem great today, tomorrow, and next week, but there are two big things to consider:

  1. Weak as they are, the Dems have their breaking point like anyone else. Filibuster too many times and they’ll figure out that there is no chance of consensus, so instead the task will shift from compromise to force. Eventually Charlie’s gonna figure out that Lucy won’t hold the ball.
  2. As great as it seems in terms of winning an election cycle, what then? Let’s say, hypothetically, that the Republicans take Congress back this year. What they’ll have done is use Senate rules that allow the minority to hold the chamber hostage… and then give that power to the other team. They’ll have set a rather unpleasant precedent.

Me, I’m optimistic that this is the beginning of a trend, because that’s the exact method by which I’ve said time and time again we can finally break the cycle of filibustering. Make the minority party actually fucking do it and you’ll see just how passionate they are about blocking that legislation.

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0 responses to “Bunning, the filibuster, and being bad at playing cards

  1. "Let’s say, hypothetically, that the Republicans take Congress back this year. What they’ll have done is use Senate rules that allow the minority to hold the chamber hostage… and then give that power to the other team."

    They're Republicans, for God's sake! If they take Congress back, won't they change the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster? And won't the Blue Dogs vote with Republicans to break a Democratic filibuster to prevent that? What am I missing here?

  2. "Let’s say, hypothetically, that the Republicans take Congress back this year. What they’ll have done is use Senate rules that allow the minority to hold the chamber hostage… and then give that power to the other team."

    They're Republicans, for God's sake! If they take Congress back, won't they change the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster? And won't the Blue Dogs vote with Republicans to break a Democratic filibuster to prevent that? What am I missing here?

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