The minority of Senate Republicans are on track to block approximately triple the number of blocked bills, than the amount of legislation that was blocked in the previous Senate term (when the Republicans were the majority). Perhaps you remember last term’s Republican rallying cry of “give us an up-or-down vote!” when they complained that the Democratic minority was obstructionist. The Republicans even threatened to get rid of the filibuster. But now that the tables are turned, the Republicans are setting a pace for obstruction that could likely triple the last Senate’s levels.
The Democrats currently have a slight majority in the Senate, but they don’t have the 60 votes needed to bring a bill to the floor for an ‘up or down vote’. More information here.
I can’t help but think this obstructionism will hurt the Republicans during the next elections, because they have blocked legislation with broad popular support, such as:
Bill to raise the minimum wage
Bill that allows the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices
Bill that sets a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq (most Americans want this)
Most people would agree that a divided government provides some checks and balances. But this slight majority has only been the source of gridlock. I’ve got a feeling that the voters will vote for more progress and less gridlock in 2008.
Speaking of obstruction, President Bush has vetoed or threatened to veto 25 bills, in the first few months of this new Senate term. Compare that with Bush’s one single veto for the entire first 6 years of his presidency. Again, many of these bills are popular with the general public, and I think these vetos will hurt the Republicans come election time. The most recent veto threat is for a bipartisan bill that would expand health care coverage for children. The bill would expand health care coverage to low-income children who aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but who can’t afford private insurance on their own. Yup, Bush is going to veto that bill.