Dick Shelby’s Dick Move

February 5th, 2010at 07:25am Posted by Eli

This seems… excessive:

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary “blanket hold” on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

“While holds are frequent,” CongressDaily‘s Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), “Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal.”

(…)

According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama’s nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track….

(…)

A San Diego State University professor and Congressional expert told the Mobile paper “he knew of no previous use of a blanket hold” in recent history.

This is really just another example of Republicans shamelessly abusing the rules of the Senate to block everything, just like their transformation of the filibuster from an extraordinary measure to a routine procedure.  In the past a sense of courtesy, decorum, and mutual respect prevented Senators of either party from turning the legislative process into a mockery, but those are traits the Republican caucus is completely devoid of now.

Which is what makes Orrin Hatch’s threat that they would get nasty if the Democrats used reconciliation to fix the healthcare reform bill so ridiculous – they’re already in full-blown, do-anything, legislative Lord Of The Flies mode, and that’s why the Democrats are talking about reconciliation.

I don’t see any easy way to fix this, unfortunately.  The Democrats no longer have 60 votes to short-circuit Republican shenanigans, and they didn’t show much appetite for (or ability to) use them when they did.  A procedural overhaul would be massive and would probably have unforeseen consequences (eliminating the filibuster would probably fix a lot of it, though).  And there’s certainly less than zero chance that the Republicans will ever stop being obstructionist assholes.

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Wankers


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