The GOP's Secret Senate Plan
December 17, 2010
One of the oddities of the debate over repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell is that Republican moderates seem far more interested in procedure than substance. They favor repeal, but they oddly seem to care more that the Senate hew to Mitch McConnell's run-out-the-clock timetable than they care about the outcome of the issue: Here's what Sen.
How Harry Reid Ruined Christmas Break
December 16, 2010
Harry Reid gets it: We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th. That is the clock our Republican colleagues need to run out. It's a long clock. He can only pass things (barring a successful bluff to go nuclear, which is highly unlikely at this point) if he has 60 votes (and more for START), and he can only pass as many things as he can pack in to the space available.
Obama's—and Reid's—Judicial Nominations Fiasco
December 13, 2010
Jamelle Bouie has been following judicial confirmations, and he has an excellent post up today criticizing the possible deal Harry Reid has been negotiating with the Republicans over the remaining judges. With good reason: the deal reportedly would allow confirmation of some—but not all—of the nominees who sailed through the Judiciary Committee with no opposition at all, while leaving the rest of them to rot, along with other nominees who had bipartisan (but not unanimous) support, not to mention the handful of actually controversial nominees. Bouie notes: Of course, if there's anyone to bla
DADT Repeal Fails, Senate Hits A New Low
December 09, 2010
At this point, it's hard to overstate just how dysfunctional and inane the U.S. Senate is. Earlier today, Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal was shot down by a 57-40 vote. In other words, 57 senators were in favor of repeal, 40 were opposed—and the thing still failed. Okay, fine, plenty of critics have decried the fact that the filibuster gets overused and you need 60 votes to pass even the smallest piece of legislation in the Senate. Set that aside.
Never Let Go, Harry
December 09, 2010
Democrats in the 111th Congress still have an unfinished agenda. Republicans, quite sensibly, are using the clock as a weapon; at this point of the session, even a filibuster that doesn’t have the votes to block cloture can still be enough to derail something. What weapons does the majority have to fight stalling? Well, there’s one big one that Harry Reid should be at least threatening, and if necessary invoking: he can add more hours for the Senate to work its will. He has already scheduled a Saturday session last week, and he has already said that, like last year, he’ll go up to Christmas.
It's Time for Harry Reid to Nuke the Senate
December 02, 2010
Greg Sargent has been reporting today about Jeff Merkley's new filibuster reform plan; in an update, Sargent writes about the question of how many votes it would take to change Senate rules (see here for my reaction to the substance of Merkley's proposal).
Bush's Legacy on AIDS--and Ours
December 01, 2010
On the train this morning I thought back to a grad school lunch I attended long ago with Randy Shilts. He noted that he would be out for coffee with someone, notice a blotch on the man's forehead, and then quietly register that yet another friend would probably be dead in six months. Shilts died not long after that, one of almost 600,000 Americans who have died of AIDS. You won't hear this from me every day—virtually any day, ever. I hope President Obama, Harry Reid, and John Boehner read George W. Bush's op-ed this morning in Washington Post.
Bang or Whimper?
November 15, 2010
WASHINGTON—The lame-duck session of Congress that kicks off this week will test whether Democrats have spines made of Play-Doh, and whether President Obama has decided to pretend that capitulation is conciliation. Congress faces an enormous amount of unfinished business, largely because of successful GOP obstruction tactics during the regular session. Republican senators who declare themselves moderate helped block action on important bills, objecting either to provisions they didn't like or to Democratic procedural maneuvers. Thus did Sens.
Change in the Senate?
November 10, 2010
This is part 2 in a three-part series on the prospects for government reform in the coming year. Part 1 ran yesterday. Ah, here we go. This is what everyone wants to hear about, especially liberals. Are we in for a reformed Senate in 2011-2012? Quick answer? Maybe, on nominations. Not likely, on bills. I'll go through an argument for that position, and then suggest why a January vote on reform might be a mistake, and what Harry Reid should do, starting in the lame duck session, to move reform forward.
Inside The Democrats' Tax Cut Clusterf*ck
November 09, 2010
Jackie Calmes has a great reported piece explaining just how Democrats in Congress blew the easiest issue in the world, how to extend the Bush tax cuts: A year ago this month, political and economic advisers at the White House first held a series of meetings on what to do about the tax cuts in the coming year. There was no consensus; advisers would shift positions with time and circumstances. And a vicious circle took hold, according to interviews over past months with Democrats in the administration and Congress: Mr.