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The Secret Democratic healthcare filibuster

By       Message Brent Budowsky       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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The Democrats need 60 votes to end filibusters. The Democrats control 60 Senate seats. Democratic leaders do not yet have 60 votes to end filibusters on healthcare and other issues.

Sherlock Holmes to Watson: If they need 60 votes, and they control 60 seats, why don't they have 60 votes? The answer, my dear Watson, is that there is secret Democratic support for the filibuster, from one or more Democratic senators who are not being publicly identified but who are being used to try to defeat the strongest healthcare reform.

I have no sympathy for the Party of No, the Republicans who use obstructionist tactics to protect the status quo and destroy the hope for change. But I have no more sympathy for any Senate Democrats, who are small in number but destructive in impact, who join the Party of No in obstruction, with nobody knowing.

The Senate has become dysfunctional. We have reached the point where a minority can obstruct virtually anything in the Senate, and usually does. Even worse, we have reached the point where certain senators don't even have to acknowledge their obstruction; they filibuster in secret by whispering in the ears of Senate leaders, without their constituents or the nation being informed.

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The public option is supported by a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, supposedly the president and huge majorities of the people that in most polls reach 65 percent.

And yet, not only does the minority obstruct the majority, but there are now secret obstructionists, done through private whispers unknown to voters, who seek to kill change by threatening to support filibusters they hope they will never be accountable for in public. This is absurd.

1. It is time to change the Senate rules and lower the number of votes that would end these obstructionist tactics from 60 to 55.

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2. I am working to develop another reform that would involve some procedure to require senators to issue a formal "intent to filibuster or consider a filibuster" that would be public information prior to the filibuster debate even being considered.

I would urge party leaders to begin to publicly announce when any senator has told them that he or she might filibuster. We have to end the fiction that "we don't have the votes" when the public should have a right to know, on issues important to the nation, exactly who is trying to kill major change.

Meanwhile, let's pass the public option, and let's end the antitrust exemption for insurers so price-fixing and collusion would be illegal for them, and let's end this practice of secret filibusters that has taken a ludicrous and intolerable situation in the Senate and made it even worse.

Voters elected Democrats to 60 seats along with a Democratic president and strongly Democratic House. Enough is enough. If there are Democrats who want to defeat change in favor of special interests, they should do publicly, and be accountable to those who elected them.

Reprinted from thehill.com


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Brent Budowsky is a regular columnist on thehill.com. He served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served (more...)

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