Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Filibuster? Why, only Republicans are allowed to do that.

GOP demonstrates its sincerity about supporting the troops.

Remember back in 2005, when Republicans controlled the Senate and the Democrats threatened to filibuster against one of Bush's shameful federal judge candidates?

Oh, no, said the Republicans. That's obstructionist and we won't stand for it. We'll invoke the nuclear option and get rid of the right to filibuster judicial nominees. Scared of the possibility, the Democrats politely backed down and promised not to filibuster in exchange for vague promises from the Republicans, who went on to get get Bush's constitution-busting nominees appointed to the Supreme Court.

Remember, the rule is that it takes 60 votes to end debate on legislation and allow a vote, as long as debate is still going on. That's where the filibuster comes in. Jimmy Stewart used it to prevent passage of a bad bill in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

Southern Democrats (who later mostly became Republicans) used it during the fifties to oppose civil rights legislation (as in the attached photo of Strom Thurmond with reading material during his record-breaking 1957 filibuster). And Republicans used it in 1968 to block LBJ's nomination of Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court.

Well, today the Republicans decided it was all right to filibuster--now that the Democrats are back in control. (Filibusters reached an all-time high during the 1991-1992 session, also when Democrats were in control.) It seems that the filibuster is a legitimate Republican tactic, but not kosher for Democrats.

Today, 54 Senators--including seven Republicans, God bless 'em--supported an amendment to the Defense Policy Bill that would require soldiers to be granted home leaves between deployments, the leave being at least as long as the deployment. That is, if you were deployed for a year, you get a year off, for instance.

The amendment addresses the terrible stresses the troops face in having one deployment after another with no leave or an indeterminate amount of leave between deployments. This hurts morale among the soldiers and their families and makes it difficult for soldiers to get on with their lives and work between deployments. It exacerbates the PTSD that all soldiers suffer from to a degree.

Nevertheless, the rest of the Republicans decided to put the soldiers' needs on the back burner by filibustering the amendment.

Remind me again, which party is the one that supports the troops?

Incidentally, you won't find this information on today's so-called liberal hotbed, the New York Times. However, the filibuster was the top story on the Washington Post's Web site today, to their credit.

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