Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column! Part one of this column ran last week, just in case you missed it. We've got a lot to cover, so let's jump right in with no further introduction.
This week as the Senate worked to pass a bipartisan budget framework that doesn't cut Social Security or Medicare benefits; a hearing without the same fanfare took place just steps away. In a high-ceilinged, wood-paneled committee room, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) chaired a hearing that might prove the more historical moment of the week.
Harry Reid and Senate Democrats made waves last week when they detonated the "nuclear option." Thanks to this change in Senate rules, ending debate on...
Once the president regains his footing, he can once again lead the government and Boehner will have nowhere to hide. Nov. 21 was twenty years in the making -- but it came, and it is a very big deal.
Ron Reagan and David Frum debate whether ending filibusters over presidential appointments was a "power grab" or a pro-democracy move to reduce dysfunction? And is the Obamacare fight about health care or "the promise of liberalism"? Then: the Kennedys, the Reagans & assassination.
That explosion you heard this week was Harry Reid going nuclear, as the Senate voted 52-48 to eliminate the ability to use filibusters to block most Judicial and Executive branch nominees. Republican Senators hysterically decried the move as "a raw power grab," "Obamacare II" and "scary and dictatorial." In fact, it was Republican senators who forced the issue by filibustering nominees at an unprecedented rate, including -- for the first time ever -- a cabinet nominee. Half the nearly 170 filibusters of presidential nominees in U.S. history have happened since Obama -- who was accused of "packing" the DC district court simply for trying to fill vacancies -- took office. It's still unlikely any real solutions will come out of our gridlocked congress, but at least now the Senate can't make our other two branches of government just as unproductive. Ka-boom!
In fact, it was even a big week just for political anniversaries. Fifty years ago this week, an event of no little importance happened. I speak, of course, tomorrow's 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who by the BBC.
The Democrats needed to act, and they did. The threshold for ending debate is now a simple majority and not a super-majority. It was an astonishing and historic moment.
Our federal government was designed as a republic. Within this system, and over time, elections were to have consequences and enlightened public opinion was to govern. Extra-constitutional appendages like the filibuster, abused by minority parties, have moved us away from that vision. Instead, our government is in perpetual gridlock, and the American people have lost faith in their government to even function properly. Even after this rules change, one of our parties must still win the House, the Senate, and the presidency before radically changing our country. That's no small feat. It will often require victories over the course of several elections. That's probably as it should be. Change ought to be possible, but only when one of our parties really earns it. The filibuster gave a small minority in the Senate outsized power to stifle the will of the people.
There's an old adage in politics that the way to win political struggles is to "bring a gun to a knife fight." If this imagery isn't violent enough for you, the subject on the table now is whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering what is called the "nuclear option."
Justice Thomas? He was confirmed 52-48, in a Senate with a Democratic majority. Could you imagine a Mitch McConnell-led Senate approving an Obama nomination of someone as far to the left as Thomas is to the right? And wait a minute, I thought it took 60 votes.
It would be best to change or eliminate the filibuster. Failing that, there is a way to get floor votes for the president's nominees.
The big question for Democrats is this: What kind of deal is worse than the sequester, which Paul Ryan has said is the Republicans' fallback position. In other words, what would make Democrats throw up their hands and say: "You want it? You got it." -- and mean it?
We decided it was time to coin a new political term. We'll repeat the definition we gave it, back in May. Wedgie: When a political party's "wedge" issue turns on them and instead of dividing the other party, begins to divide their own.
There are 10 Mormon members of the House of Representatives. If the Mormon Church would use its influence to get all 10 Mormon House members to support ENDA and have them to put some friendly pressure on Speaker Boehner, ENDA would likely become law.
Senate Democrats, there have been over 400 filibusters. What are you going to do about it? We the People want to know. We thought we had elections. We thought things were decided and the country could finally move forward.