Not A Game by Senator John Kerry

Posted by: Betsm

Written by Senator John Kerry/Cross-posted from TPM

Senator John Kerry

Senator John Kerry

Too often, the way it’s played and the way it’s reported, Americans might think everything that happens in Washington is a game.

But look, this is anything but a game. The business before the Senate is literally life and death on many issues, and the parliamentary tricks to delay and obstruct the basic workings of our government have real-world consequences.

What am I talking about? Start with the latest example: one Senator’s effort to delay the votes on some critically-needed legislation for Americans out of work and hurting in our economy.

A lot of people today are clicking on this news story about Senator Bunning.

Political theater? Much more than that. Here’s what’s at stake: 2000 federal highway workers were furloughed this morning, losing the pay that their families depend on and halting work on critical national infrastructure. Nearly 1.2 million could lose their unemployment benefits without an extension of that program, pulling away a critical financial lifeline.

This has to end.

In the last Congress, the Republican minority more than doubled the previous record for filibusters, and they are on a pace to challenge or surpass that “accomplishment” this Congress as well. And filibusters are only the most obvious part of it. (TPM put together a great chart on filibusters which you can see here.)

On issue after issue, votes large and small, the strategy from the GOP at the highest levels has been the same: exploiting every Senate rule, playing every trick to try to slow things down. They put holds on bills that later pass by 90 votes, filibuster things they later vote for, block things they previously proposed. They used the filibuster to shoot down a debt commission that they themselves called on President Obama to implement! They block completely uncontroversial nominees and cause days of delays on the most critical of legislation. They even stalled on money for our troops last year, just to try to delay debate on health care reform.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are good Senators on both sides of the aisle. Last week, five Republican Senators (including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and I don’t care about party label, I call it the way I see it – Scott cast the right vote for Massachusetts there) joined with Democrats to break a GOP filibuster to pass a jobs bill helping small businesses hire in this tough economy. Senator Lindsay Graham and I are working hard together to develop a bill on energy and global climate change.

But as long as the GOP leadership continues with the scorched-earth campaign, it will be tough to get done the things we know we need to do.

We need this to end. Debate big differences. Disagree. Use the filibuster when big matters of principle hang in the balance – and sometimes they do. But at the end of the day, Washington has to function – people are counting on it. When it comes to unemployment insurance for workers who have been laid-off through no fault of their own, stop playing games immediately, allow a vote, and then get to work trying to solve some problems, not playing tricks with the Senate rules. The framers invested the minority with rights to protect the Senate – not to destroy it.

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13 Comments

Filed under Economy, Jobs, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, Sen. John Kerry, Senate, Uncategorized, Unemployment

13 responses to “Not A Game by Senator John Kerry

  1. Thanks for highlighting this one Bets. SMDH

    I think we need to frame the last sentence, or at least add it to the oath of office the politicians take when they’re sworn in…

    “The framers invested the minority with rights to protect the Senate – not to destroy it”

  2. Yep, people temporarily lost work and benefits because the Dems wouldn’t fund their bill. They all wanted the bill, but the Dems wanted some future generation to pay for it. Sort of sad, isn’t it.

    Not, of course, as sad as listening to Leftists blame the GOP for doing their job and trying to slow down rushed legislation and allowing we, the People a chance to see what the Dems are up to.

    But that’s the problem. The more we, the People find out about what the Dems have been doing, the more we’re dead-set to remove them. 😉

    • “Yep, people temporarily lost work and benefits because the Dems wouldn’t fund their bill.”

      you lie.

      see: Jim “Gin is my best friend” Bunning

      • Bunning wouldn’t expedite the bill because they refused to pay for it and had offered multiple means of payment but was refused.

        So who really is to blame, the man who said not without funding or those who refused to provide such?

    • spirit_55Z

      Get over that future generations bullshit. The GOP are OBTRUCTIONIST, and are using Bunning as a tool to further their obtructionist agenda.

      In the meantime, folks are hurting, because these clowns, **looking at you hop-a-long-Bunning**

  3. Kentucky’s Bunning again blocks jobless benefits
    WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. Jim Bunning has again blocked the Senate from extending unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for the jobless. The Kentucky Republican objected Tuesday to a request by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a fellow Republican, to pass a 30-day extension of jobless benefits and other expired measures. The measure would also extend highway programs and prevent a big cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_JOBS_BILL_IMPASSE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-03-02-10-35-12

    (oh wait AP news is a liberal-progressive-constitution-eating-organization…. my bad)

    • Looks like Bunning caved to the pressure and outrage. It got passed! 🙂

      • Not exactly. All he did was prevent the Senate from having an expedited vote on it. It was always going to be voted on this week if it wasn’t last week.

      • 6:58 PM ET — Bunning accepts deal. Roll Call reports:

        Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) Tuesday night abandoned his one-man filibuster of a one-month extension to unemployment benefits and other programs.

        In the end Bunning agreed to a deal allowing him one vote on an amendment to pay for the bill’s $10 billion cost. That proposal was offered by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last Thursday at the start of his filibuster, but Bunning rejected it because he feared his amendment would not pass.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/02/bunning-blocks-jobless-be_n_482291.html

        article from the Associated Press

  4. This Bunning guy is so bitter towards his own party (McConnell evidently tried forcing him out long ago) that he doesn’t care that people are really suffering.

  5. Propecia

    Class article! It is more than such sites

  6. Some classic thoughts from Josh Marshall at TPM… 😉

    The Horror

    “First Shelby. Now Bunning. I don’t know what the pithy way to phrase it is. But somehow the Democrats need to capture for people that the true horror of Republican rule would be every couple weeks having some cranking seventy-something guy from the South pulling a freak out, screaming at the country to get off his lawn and shutting down the government until the veins in his forehead de-bulge.”

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