Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Tidbits

  • McClatchy lays out Senate Republicans' record-paced obstructionism and provides us with the graphic to the right (emphasis added by me):

    This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that's rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress. ...

    Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.

    Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

    By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate. ...

    Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.
    There was a time, I like to call it "2005," when Republicans decried blocking up-or-down votes. I guess this is just another case of Republicans hypocritically not holding themselves to their own standards. (HT: C&L and TP)

  • New Hamshpire: Blue Hampshire catches Sprintin' John Sununu in a massive case of denial on Iraq vs. the War on Terror and on 2008 political dynamics. Meanwhile, the Concord Monitor profiles Senate candidate, professor and former astronaut Jay Buckey.

  • Virginia: Word is, popular former Governor Mark Warner is thinking about running for office soon.

  • Kentucky: What? You haven't seen any negative local press on Mitch McConnell in the last five minutes? Well, the Louisville Courier-Journal delivers:

    If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is upset about being portrayed as a blinkered partisan, maybe he should try something new.

    It's called leadership.

    And there is no more important issue on which to exhibit it than on the Iraq war. But instead of living up to his title, Sen. McConnell prefers to bury his head in the sand and ignore facts on the ground, not to mention the public's dwindling support for this conflict.
    And it goes on and on. Do read the whole thing. (HT: DMKY)

  • Michael Moore will be liveblogging on Crooks & Liars at 4pm Eastern today. Check it out and bring questions. And then see SiCKO. Again.


    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    7:57 PM, July 22, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Did you even read the Frist op-ed that you posted with regards to the filibuster and up-or-down votes? Just about every sentence states or references the practice concerning judicial nominees. You do realize that no Republican has gone on record saying the filibuster should never be used, right? I know that it doesn't take much for you to accuse a Republican of hypocrisy--you're no stranger when it comes to trying to make a mountain out of a molehill--but this isn't even close. You are being deliberately obtuse in order to make a point. That's when you know you've lost the argument.

    7:58 PM, July 22, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    You're absolutely right, va blogger - it's a mountain out of a molehill when McConnell and the current crop of Senate Republicans are on pace to nearly triple the amount of filibustering of the previous record. We should all just look the other way. It's not like they're preventing legislation supported by a majority of Americans or anything...

    8:42 PM, July 22, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Hey, did you catch that bit on how Harry Reid refused to allow a vote on the Salazar or Warner-Lugar amendments, and instead insisted on wasting 30 hours on debating an amendment he knew wouldn't passed, and wouldn't matter anyway if it did because he knew it couldn't overcome a veto?

    Its difficult to understand why Reid would choose to exclusively push for a bitterly divisive course of action instead of attempting any semblence of bi-partisan cooperation, until you read quotes from Reid such as, "We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war." Suddenly, Reid's desire to only act on legislation that has no chance of passing makes sense: If he can extend the war through the 2008 elections, he can use it for political gain. Its just a shame that he's jerking the anti-war crowd around when they truly want a change of course in Iraq, and the Senate leadership does not.

    In light of that, I have absolutely no problem with the Senate GOP stunting the Democrats at every advance. This is a Senate Majority Leader who clearly values partisanship and political gain above the American people and his own base. If the Senate Republicans had any reason to believe that "playing nice" with Reid would be in the best interest of the American people, I'm sure they wouldn't use the tools of the minority to block their agenda.

    All of this, however, ignores the fact that you are clearly wrong when you accuse Republicans of hypocrisy. First you are dense about the matter, then you simply ignore it all together. Eventually, you're going to have to ask yourself what the cost of being dishonest is.

    8:22 AM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger:

    1) You're a liar. Reid did not refuse to allow a vote on those several amendments. Read his letter to McConnell:

    Therefore, I renew the proposal I offered to you yesterday to permit the Senate to act on a series of amendments pertaining to Iraq. Under my proposal, the Senate would hold up or down votes on the bipartisan amendments offered by (1) Senators Levin and Reed, (2) Lugar and Warner, (3) Salazar and Alexander, and (4) Nelson and Collins. There may well be other amendments that Republican and Democratic Senators wish to offer related to Iraq, and I would be willing to work with you to ensure these amendments also receive up or down votes.

    McConnell chose obstructionism.

    Second, just because Bush threatens to veto something doesn't mean the Legislature has to roll over. Bush may have control of the Judiciary, but he doesn't have control of the Legislative Branch anymore. I think the role of legislating belongs to the Legislative, not the Executive, Branch.

    And don't crow about "divisive" moves when, time and time again, Republican Senate leadership obstructs common-sense legislation that enjoys both majority support among Senators and among American voters, even if it can't yet break the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

    Any more intellectual dishonesty you want to pump out?

    11:05 AM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Why does Reid have to strike a deal with McConnell to allow an up-or-down vote on Salazar or Warner-Lugar? He's the Majority Leader. He sets the schedule for the Senate. He could choose to bring one of those amendments up for a vote right now, and is refusing to do so. What's he waiting for?

    And I'm not saying that the Legislative Branch has to roll over. However, the truth of the matter is that any withdrawal language will be vetoed, and if its attached to an appropriations bill, there are not 290 votes in the House to override it. In short, Harry Reid is allowing a vote only on the one item which has no chance of becoming law. This from someone who says he wants to end the war, I ask, what's his real intention? Is it to end the war, or is to play to the base while continuing the war so he can use it for a political advantage?

    And you've still refused to talk about how its not hypocrisy. You are wrong and you know it, and instead of admitting to it, you're ignoring it and hoping it goes away.

    11:33 AM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    Va Blogger -- it is true that the Reps have always tried to draw a distinction between nominations and regular legislation. As far as I can tell that distinction is not supported by the Senate rules or the constitution. Therefore, it is a little unfair to accuse the guru of being dishonest for refusing to use Republican categories -- I realize that Reps have been very successful for the last decade or so at getting everyone to use their frames and language that it may come as a shock when people don't buy in but it is fair for the guru to say a filibuster is a filibuster whether the other side wants to draw a distinction or not.

    We could just as easily say that regular legislation can be filibustered but not spending bills etc etc.

    Lastly, yes Reid is being partisan and that may be regrettable but it is a little funny to hear a proponent and defender of the strategies of Delay, Bush, and Frist to bemoan partisanship. Come on the Reps would only cooperate under one condition. That is if they thought it would help them electorally. They controlled every branch of government for 6 years and failed to deal with any major issue in a bipartisan fashion so don't pretend that the best interest of the American people factors into the Senate Reps conduct.

    If they cared about the best interest of the American people they would have conducted some real oversight when they were in charge, dealt with immigration reform rather than just continually kicking it down the road, dealt with climate change and a whole host of other real issues.

    12:25 PM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    The distinction is supported by Senate rules. The Constitution merely says "advise and consent" of the Senate. It is Senate rules that put into practice holding judicial hearings and a confirmation vote--by simply majority--of justices. Senate rules clearly hold judicial nominees in a different class than regular legislation. And beyond that, Senate tradition as done the same. How else would Ruth Bader Ginsberg be confirmed by a 97-0 vote?

    However, even if you don't believe that there is a distinction between them, the Republican demand for an up-or-down vote pertained to judicial nominees only. The Republicans made that distinction when they decried the use of the filibuster, and to accuse them of hypocrisy just because you don't believe in that distinction is self-serving and illogical.

    And I'm not bemoaning partisanship. I'm bemoaning the words and actions of the Senate Majority Leader who says he wants to pull the troops out of Iraq, then only allows action on the one amendment which has no chance of doing so.

    12:49 PM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Why does Reid have to strike a deal with McConnell? Because McConnell is obstructing Democratic legislation and amendments left-and-right, regardless of bi-partisan support or overwhelming support among the American people. Do you really want to keep intentionally missing the point?

    I believe that Harry Reid's "intention" is to legislate - and legislate that which is the will of the American people, regardless of Republican obstruction or Bush veto threats.

    You want me to talk about how what is not hypocrisy? You want me to debate your side for you? I offered this response to your intellectually dishonest comment over at MyDD, but I'll repeat it here:

    Democrats were far more permissive of Bush's judicial nominees than Republicans were of Clinton's nominees. That Democrats only attempted to filibuster the most extreme nominees that W. offered, and that Republicans did an effective job painting that as undue "obstructionism" is what is important. As far as the "general purpose legislation," items like implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, negotiating lower prescription drug prices, raising the minimum wage, setting a timetable to bring the troops home, and many others have majority American support. Democrats stood in the way of extreme judicial nominees (while, again, showing most Bush nominees far more acceptance than Republicans showed Clinton nominees), while Republicans obstruct an agenda that enjoys majority support among Americans. Hardly an even comparison.

    Instead of talking out of your backside, why not cite where in the Senate rules there exists the distinctions between judicial nominations and legislation. (And the Constitution says "advise and consent" - not "rubber stamp" - tough luck if that conflicts with your interpretation.)

    Please do not continue your lie that Senate Majority Leader Reid will only allow action on one Iraq amendment. He wants to give all amendments an up-or-down vote. Mitch McConnell is preventing it. Period. Please do not lie.

    1:57 PM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger jak said...

    va blogger - How dare you cast aspersions on Harry Reid's character in this instance. Americans know damned well who is responsible for the perpetuation of this catastrophic and immoral war, and it ain't Harry Reid. If Democrats stand to benefit from this administration's unconscionable ineptitude in the planning and execution of the war, Republicans have only their feckless commander-in-chief to blame.

    What really sticks in my craw is that you have the audacity to question Reid's motives while you smugly countenance the ceaseless slaughter taking place in Iraq. You're infinitely more culpable than he is. As usual, the only purpose your writing serves is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity.

    Bush and his congressional cronies are not the ultimate arbiters of justice - just because they're obstructing legislation supported by a majority of the American people doesn't mean it's not worth trying to pass.

    And it's the epitome of hypocrisy for you to criticize Reid for devoting 30 hours to debate the most exigent crisis of our time. I seem to remember a certain Congress, we'll call it the "Republican-controlled 109th," which convened three out of every seven days of the week. Where were you to complain that the Senate was wasting upwards of 96 hours per week?

    Silly me, I always thought the Senate was the world's foremost deliberative body. But you've shown us all the way: If it ain't acting as a rubber stamp for the Decider, then Democrats are obviously trying to score political points, like by representing the will of the people.

    P.S. Please cite the exact chapter and verse of Senate rules which draw this arbitrary and self-serving Republican distinction between votes on judicial nominees and regular legislation. Or cite a modicum of historical evidence which supports your position. How convenient that Republicans can actively threaten to unilaterally impose limitations on the rights of the minority while in power, but when Democratic partisans point out the double standard, you stain your panties.

    va blogger, your're being just plain dumb. you're being dense. you're being ignorant. you're being obtuse. And it's "it's."

    2:02 PM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    I'm not going to insert an apostrophe every time I contract "it is" into "its". If its too confusing for you to read, I suggest you don't.

    It doesn't matter if you believe there is no distinction between judicial nominees and general legislation. I believe there is a great distinction between them, but that doesn't matter either. The point is that the nuclear option, the call for up-or-down votes, and the compromise struck by the Gang of 14, all pertained exclusively to the use of the filibuster concerning judicial nominees. Even if there is no distinction in Senate rules or the Constitution, Republicans themselves only decried the use of the filibuster on judicial nominees. They never decried the use of the filibuster in other situations. To date, there has not been a judicial nominee that the Republicans have filibustered, so it is decidedly NOT hypocrisy.

    Please explain to me, S2G, how Mitch McConnell is preventing a vote on the Salazar and Warner-Lugar amendments? He's blocking a vote on Reed-Levin, yes. Explain how he is blocking a vote on the other two amendments?

    The truth is that he's not blocking a vote on those amendments. The only reason why there has been no vote on them is because Reid hasn't scheduled one. Reid is not bound by McConnell on this. All Reid has to do is call for a vote on the amendment, and it would happen. He's purposely choosing not to. I wonder why.

    And Jak, bloviated language aside, please try to see the endgame. Even if the Republicans allowed a vote on Reed-Levin, and the vote passed and went onto President Bush for signature or veto, it would get vetoed. The bill, being a spending bill, would then go back to the House for override. There is not 290 votes in the House to override the President on withdrawal. So the bill would die in the House, and the Senate would never see it again.

    Harry Reid has to know this. He has to know that the President would veto, and that the House wouldn't override. He has no business being in the Senate Leadership if he doesn't know this. So why would Harry Reid insist that the only bill to be voted on is one that has no chance of passage?

    4:58 PM, July 23, 2007  
    Blogger jak said...

    Va Blogger - Please continue enlightening us on the Republican Party's proud tradition of "seeing the endgame" and avoiding votes doomed to defeat. Gosh, it seems like only yesterday...


    U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 106th Congress - 1st Session

    as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

    Vote Summary

    Question: Guilty or Not Guilty (Art I, Articles of Impeachment v. President W. J. Clinton )
    Vote Number: 17 Vote Date: February 12, 1999, 12:08 PM
    Required For Majority: 2/3 Vote Result: Not Guilty
    Measure Number: H.Res. 611
    Measure Title: A resolution impeaching William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
    Vote Counts Guilty 45
    Not Guilty 55
    Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State

    Alphabetical by Senator Name Abraham (R-MI), Guilty
    Akaka (D-HI), Not Guilty
    Allard (R-CO), Guilty
    Ashcroft (R-MO), Guilty
    Baucus (D-MT), Not Guilty
    Bayh (D-IN), Not Guilty
    Bennett (R-UT), Guilty
    Biden (D-DE), Not Guilty
    Bingaman (D-NM), Not Guilty
    Bond (R-MO), Guilty
    Boxer (D-CA), Not Guilty
    Breaux (D-LA), Not Guilty
    Brownback (R-KS), Guilty
    Bryan (D-NV), Not Guilty
    Bunning (R-KY), Guilty
    Burns (R-MT), Guilty
    Byrd (D-WV), Not Guilty
    Campbell (R-CO), Guilty
    Chafee, J. (R-RI), Not Guilty
    Cleland (D-GA), Not Guilty
    Cochran (R-MS), Guilty
    Collins (R-ME), Not Guilty
    Conrad (D-ND), Not Guilty
    Coverdell (R-GA), Guilty
    Craig (R-ID), Guilty
    Crapo (R-ID), Guilty
    Daschle (D-SD), Not Guilty
    DeWine (R-OH), Guilty
    Dodd (D-CT), Not Guilty
    Domenici (R-NM), Guilty
    Dorgan (D-ND), Not Guilty
    Durbin (D-IL), Not Guilty
    Edwards (D-NC), Not Guilty
    Enzi (R-WY), Guilty
    Feingold (D-WI), Not Guilty
    Feinstein (D-CA), Not Guilty
    Fitzgerald (R-IL), Guilty
    Frist (R-TN), Guilty
    Gorton (R-WA), Not Guilty
    Graham (D-FL), Not Guilty
    Gramm (R-TX), Guilty
    Grams (R-MN), Guilty
    Grassley (R-IA), Guilty
    Gregg (R-NH), Guilty
    Hagel (R-NE), Guilty
    Harkin (D-IA), Not Guilty
    Hatch (R-UT), Guilty
    Helms (R-NC), Guilty
    Hollings (D-SC), Not Guilty
    Hutchinson (R-AR), Guilty
    Hutchison (R-TX), Guilty
    Inhofe (R-OK), Guilty
    Inouye (D-HI), Not Guilty
    Jeffords (R-VT), Not Guilty
    Johnson (D-SD), Not Guilty
    Kennedy (D-MA), Not Guilty
    Kerrey (D-NE), Not Guilty
    Kerry (D-MA), Not Guilty
    Kohl (D-WI), Not Guilty
    Kyl (R-AZ), Guilty
    Landrieu (D-LA), Not Guilty
    Lautenberg (D-NJ), Not Guilty
    Leahy (D-VT), Not Guilty
    Levin (D-MI), Not Guilty
    Lieberman (D-CT), Not Guilty
    Lincoln (D-AR), Not Guilty
    Lott (R-MS), Guilty
    Lugar (R-IN), Guilty
    Mack (R-FL), Guilty
    McCain (R-AZ), Guilty
    McConnell (R-KY), Guilty
    Mikulski (D-MD), Not Guilty
    Moynihan (D-NY), Not Guilty
    Murkowski (R-AK), Guilty
    Murray (D-WA), Not Guilty
    Nickles (R-OK), Guilty
    Reed (D-RI), Not Guilty
    Reid (D-NV), Not Guilty
    Robb (D-VA), Not Guilty
    Roberts (R-KS), Guilty
    Rockefeller (D-WV), Not Guilty
    Roth (R-DE), Guilty
    Santorum (R-PA), Guilty
    Sarbanes (D-MD), Not Guilty
    Schumer (D-NY), Not Guilty
    Sessions (R-AL), Guilty
    Shelby (R-AL), Not Guilty
    Smith (R-NH), Guilty
    Smith (R-OR), Guilty
    Snowe (R-ME), Not Guilty
    Specter (R-PA), Not Guilty
    Stevens (R-AK), Not Guilty
    Thomas (R-WY), Guilty
    Thompson (R-TN), Not Guilty
    Thurmond (R-SC), Guilty
    Torricelli (D-NJ), Not Guilty
    Voinovich (R-OH), Guilty
    Warner (R-VA), Not Guilty
    Wellstone (D-MN), Not Guilty
    Wyden (D-OR), Not Guilty


    Reid wasting 30 hours? No biggie. After all, Congress had four months to spare for a politically motivated kangaroo show trial in late 1998-early 1999 which accomplished jack and squat for the American people. At least nothing else was going on at the time. Al-Qaeda certainly wasn't strengthening its hand throughout the Middle East...

    5:54 PM, July 24, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Yeah, I agree its too bad we didn't have a Commander-in-Chief in 1999-2000 that was committed to combating terrorism. I mean, 17 soldiers were murdered on the USS Cole in peacetime, and there was hardly any reaction from the White House.

    Other than that, I don't see your point. I'm glad you agree that Harry Reid is wasting his time on political stunts he knows have no chance of succeeding, but what does the Iraq War have to do with Clinton lying under oath about fucking an intern?

    9:11 PM, July 24, 2007  
    Blogger jak said...

    Wow, Va Blogger, how much does the Republican National Committee pay you to deposit your conscience into the nearest trash receptacle? The fact that you not only gloss over, but even refuse to address an obvious case of rank Republican hypocrisy which completely undermines your credibility shows there's no rhetorical low to which you won't stoop... which I guess makes you next in line to become Bush's press secretary should Tony Snow resign due to illness.

    Yeah, I'm glad that the current commander-in-chief devotes the entirety of his being and our country's military and financial resources to the task of combatting terrorism. That's why he attacked a country in Iraq which, according to intelligence officials, lacked even a single active Al-Qaeda cell prior to the invasion, but which, in his defense, did control the world's third-largest oil reserve. That's why the latest National Intelligence Estimate warns of Al-Qaeda's resurgent strength in the lawless border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, an area which the Bush administration has decidedly neglected. That's why we couldn't nab Al-Qaeda's senior leadership in a planned 2005 cross-border raid into Pakistan for fear that we'd perturb Musharraf's political opponents. Now that's what I call an unwavering commitment to fighting terror.

    The bombing of the USS Cole took place on October 12, 2000. Conclusive evidence of Al-Qaeda's complicity was not established until after the administration of George W. Bush was sworn into office on January 20, 2001. In the eight months preceding September 11, 2001, Bush did nothing to avenge the attacks or otherwise bring the perpetrators to justice. Clinton had three months to act based on inconclusive speculation. Bush had eight based on definitive proof. I don't see your point.

    Finally, I challenge you to find anyone outside your John Birch Society chapter who believes that Clinton's alleged offense had graver consequences for our society than Bush's deception - willful or not - in leading this country into an unnecessary war. REAL leaders take responsibility for their actions, especially when things go awry. They do not blame faulty intelligence coming from the very subordinates whom they appointed. They do not cherry-pick evidence to fit their own predetermined ideology or worldview. And most important of all, they exalt truth, honesty, and openness above all else. On these and many other critical tests of leadership, your BFF George W. Bush fails miserably.

    You really should stop breathing in your own verbal flatulence, Va, lest you cause permanent brain damage. Are you really so oblivious to fact and reason? Have you no decency, sir? Have you no shame?

    12:45 AM, July 25, 2007  

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