Monday, July 16, 2007

Senator Reid's Jujitsu on Iraq

Senator Harry Reid has finally decided to call out the GOP on Iraq.

Reid is a fair-minded, consensus-building gentleman from the old school, so it took him a while to catch on that simply being reasonable and playing nice with the Republicans wasn't going to work. Now Reid is telling the Grand Obstruction Party if they want to filibuster legislation setting timetables for withdrawal from Iraq, they'll have to stand and deliver.

In their newfound role as minority party, the Republicans have threatened to filibuster over 40 times this legislative session. It takes 60 votes to break a filibuster. In other words, having a simple majority is no longer enough to swing any legislation in the Senate.

The Republicans weren't always so cheery about filibusters. In 2005, when the minority Democrats threatened to filibuster over the confirmation of three appellate court nominees, the GOP talking heads immediately cried foul. Labeling the Democrats as obstructionists, they went public and demanded an up or down vote to confirm. So incensed were the Republicans, they actually considered taking a vote on the "nuclear option," banning the right of the minority to filibuster judicial appointees. The Democrats backed down after the "gang of 14" agreed to compromise, and appointees were confirmed.

Now, as a key U.S. general responsible for the surge suggests it could continue until spring, the Democratic-led House and Senate are renewing calls for a firm timetable for withdrawal. After hours of debate this week, Reid has taken a page out of the Republican play book and is promising to enforce an actual filibuster if the Republicans refuse to allow a vote on the Levin amendment.

From TMP Cafe, here is an excerpt from Reid's speech.

It would be one thing for Republicans to vote against this bill. If they honestly believe that “stay the course” is the right strategy — they have the right to vote “no.”

But now, Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment that could bring the war to a responsible end.

They are protecting the President rather than protecting our troops.

They are denying us an up or down — yes or no — vote on the most important issue our country faces.

I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down.

If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday.

The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it.

The Democrats were concerned after the elections that the public not perceive them to be too divisive, and they bent over backwards to show compromise with their peers across the aisle. All they got for their efforts was mud thrown in their face.

Republicans this week were starting to put some distance between themselves and the President on Iraq. Now they'll have to pick a side. If it plays out, it will finally show once and for all who supports the troops. Let's hope Harry means it.

1 comment:

Munsey said...

Tell me, is it obstruction when the Democrats require a 60 vote majority on the "John Doe" amendment, and it dies despite a 57-39 vote majority? Or does obstruction only apply to Republicans?