When was the last time you remember anything passing through Congress and being signed by the president that wasn't
either a budget funding bill, the NDAA, or the debt ceiling being raised? It was probably 2010 during the lame-duck session as the Democratic House passed a flurry of bills, including the repeal of DADT. Since Jan of 2011, the Republican-led House has brought up (and in some cases passed) bills that would never make it through the Democratic-led Senate, and certainly not be signed by the president.
That's just party politics, and the wide chasm between the parties' ideologies. What's a mess is the filibuster in the Senate and the political infighting and power plays that seem to go on constantly among various factions of the Republican congressional members.
The absurdity of how messed up the Senate is was vividly illustrated yesterday when Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fillibustered his own bill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced legislation to raise the debt ceiling on Thursday, apparently with the intent of showing that even Democrats would not support such a bill.
However, McConnell’s plan backfired after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called for a vote on the legislation, which would have given the president the authority to raise the federal debt ceiling on his own. The top Senate Republican was forced to filibuster his own bill.
Durbin explained “to those who don’t follow the Senate” that by calling for the legislation to be passed by a 60-vote majority, McConnell had filibustered the bill. He said this was probably the first time in history that a senator had filibuster his own proposal.
Reid and other Democrats have called for the Senate’s filibuster rules to be reformed, claiming that Republicans have abused the parliamentary procedure and obstructed lawmaking.
This is Exhibit "A" for why the Senate is such a mess. The "60 vote filibuster" rule was created to give the minority party the opportunity to get legislation tweaked before it came up for a simple majority vote. It was not meant to permanently stop legislation, nor require a 60 vote supermajority to pass anything. Yet that is what the Republicans have been doing ever since the Dems took control.
So here we have the Senate minority leader putting up a bill he doesn't want for purely political purposes, and then has to filibuster it when the Dems call his bluff. After defeating the UN Persons with Disabilities treaty a few days ago, this is yet another black eye on the Senate.
Fortunately, one of the most divisive members there is leaving. Jim DeMint has decided to resign and take a position heading up the Heritage Foundation
. Even though he's only been there for just over one term, it seems like forever. On his way out the door, he took a shot at House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
for his seeming willingness to "increase revenue levels" (ie: raise taxes).
Boehner has his own set of problems as he tries to find a way to balance the reality of the most recent election results (and polls from Americans showing support for raising taxes on the rich) with the vocal ultra-conservative sect of his own party. They have not been hiding their feelings
and the notion of mutiny and coup are very much in the air. He's tried to assert himself by taking a page from Tom DeLay "The Hammer"
, but that may not play well if there's enough of a groundswell for usurping the throne.
Meanwhile - what is getting done in the House? Very little, and that is unlikely to change as they will only be in session for 126 days
What are we paying these people for anyway?