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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/30/09

Filibustering a Directive from the People of America

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The interests of the American people no longer have significant meaning in the U.S. Senate. The continued use of the archaic Senate filibuster rule has now reached such heights that this legislative body of our government can no longer function as our founders intended. The business of governing our nation has been placed on an indefinite hold as the threat of a filibuster dominates and corrupts the entire process.

The directive to which I refer is none other than the current legislation on health care reform before the Senate which the majority of Americans fully support. This critical issue of our time is in danger of collapsing because the Democrats cannot come up with the 60 votes that it takes to invoke cloture and prevent a filibuster. Democrats and their entire agenda are completely paralyzed by their fear of a filibuster.

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It is true that the Democrats won the congressional elections in 2006 and in 2008, together with the presidential election. So now they have total control of the House, the Senate and the White House, right? Wrong, they have a majority in both houses and a president in power but the combination of the Congress and the president has been unable to overcome the threat of the dreaded filibuster.

Briefly, here's how the filibuster and cloture process works. The Republicans have made it crystal clear that they intend to defeat the upcoming Senate legislation on health care reform. They can initiate the filibuster and stop the legislation if there are at least 41 senators who vote for it. To prevent a filibuster, there must be 3/5, or 60, of senators who vote for cloture.

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That's the situation currently in the Senate whereby Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders are frantically trying to figure out a way to get those 60 votes. But so far they cannot find the votes even though they have a majority of 60 senators, which includes two independents who caucus with them. There is a small group of conservative Democrats, five or six, who are opposing the public option that Harry Reid wants to include and they are threatening the chances for reform to be enacted.

The easy way out of this dilemma is for that majority of 60 senators to vote for cloture even if some are not for it. That would prevent the filibuster. Then when it comes to a floor vote, they can vote against it for their particular reasons. While it seems almost incomprehensible, it appears nearly certain that one or more of this small group of dissenting senators will go against the wishes of their Democratic Party and the majority of Americans and support a filibuster.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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