Is The U.S. Senate Broken?
I am hoping that one or two readers will recall the famous filibuster that took place in Allen Drury’s ”A Shade Of Difference” when Senator Seab Cooley took the Senate floor and talked….and talked. The fact he died soon thereafter was also a memorable moment. I have much fondness for the entire series of books by Drury that started with “Advise and Consent”. The filibuster was a one-time event in the Congress that Allen Drury created. Today the threat of a Senate filibuster over every issue makes a mockery about the original purpose of such an action. Because there is such a huge divide between the set of books that Drury wrote and the politics over the past 20 years I have placed the 6-set series on top of a bookshelf in a place of honor. Throughout the Drury-written pages there is political intensity that always finds a middle path between the two parties. Strong philosophical differences play out on the pages, but there are always brighter minds that find common ground.
Reading about fictional characters may be the only way to find common ground in Washington anymore.
Remember the days in civics class when we were told the majority party in the United States Senate could pass legislation with 51 votes? Over the years as the political fractures in our nation intensified there is no longer any ability for a majority party to effectively govern. Now everything is threatened to be filibustered, requiring 60 votes to do anything……including naming a courthouse.
Exasperated House Democratic leaders have compiled a list showing that they have passed 290 bills that have stalled in the Senate.
The list is the latest sign that Democrats in the lower chamber are frustrated with their Senate counterparts.
The list of stalled bills includes both major and minor legislation: healthcare reform; climate change; food safety; financial aid for the U.S. Postal Service; a job security act for wounded veterans; a Civil War battlefield preservation act; vision care for children; the naming of a federal courthouse in Iowa after former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa); a National Historic Park named for President Jimmy Carter; a bill to improve absentee ballot voting; a bill to improve cybersecurity; and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Reid, like Pelosi, blames Republicans for the legislative logjam. In a speech late Monday on the Senate floor, he took the GOP to task for opposing a job-growth bill pending before the chamber, and said Republicans are abusing the filibuster.“We had to file cloture some 70 times last year,” Reid said. “Seventy times. That’s remarkably bad. Let’s change that.”
There are so many issues to deal with but the hyper-politicizing of every aspect of governing has stopped the wheel from turning. There are legitimate reasons for the angst than many feel about government. I think it has far less to do with the actual piece of legislation, and far more to do with the process that attempts to grind out a bill. The current situation proves my point.