On Sunday night I posted a blog urging Majority Leader Reid to force the Republicans to carry out a good old fashioned in-person filibuster if they want to block a vote on legislation requiring redeployment of troops from Iraq by next spring. On Monday afternoon Sen. Reid promised that he would do just that.
I'm not vain enough to think that my HuffPo blog was the main, or even an important, factor in Sen. Reid's decision. He certainly draws advice from many quarters, and a number of bloggers made the same point as I did over the past several days. (There is something vaguely surreal going on, though. Back in December I blogged that Sen. Reid should retract statements seemingly backing a short-term surge. The next day he indeed retracted those statements in his own blog on the Huffington Post. Does Sen. Reid have a staff member read HuffPo on a daily basis and report back anything interesting and relevant? If one of Sen. Reid's staff members is reading this, check my bio for my email address and drop me a line. It would be nice to know if you're out there.)
In any case, if Sen. Reid or his staff are reading Huffpo, here's my two cents of advice for today: Force the Republicans to make the filibuster a full-time commitment, not just a one night stand.
It's unclear from Sen. Reid's statements if he just plans to keep the Senate in session for one night on Tuesday, and then cave in and move on if he can't, in one night, achieve a cloture vote on the Republican filibuster. If he's serious, and can't achieve a cloture vote in one night, he should keep the Senate in session for as long as it takes to get an up or down vote on the Levin/Reed bill to redeploy the troops. Otherwise, Republican talking points that this is just a political theater stunt will ring too true.
And after he achieves cloture and the Levin/Reid bill passes the Senate by a majority vote, Sen. Reid should continue this strategy when the Senate returns from its summer recess. Start bringing back other popular legislation that the Republicans have filibustered to death. A good place to start would be by bringing back the bill to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices with pharmaceutical companies. This is a widely popular piece of legislation that was passed by the House as part of Nancy Pelosi's first 100 hours campaign and died in the Senate due to a Republican filibuster. Put it back on the Senate floor and keep the Senate in session until the Republicans allow an up or down vote, while a Republican filibuster shows the American people that Republicans are on the side of the drug companies, not on the side of America's older citizens and taxpayers..
Then keep on bringing back other popular pieces of legislation that the Republicans killed by their filibuster earlier this year. Maybe the Democratic Senate and House that the voters elected last fall can show the people that they can really accomplish something and thus restore the public's faith in the Democratic Congress.
Is someone from Sen. Reid's office out there listening?