This morning, under the leadership of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan energy bill supported by 59 out of 100 senators, the majority of the House of Representatives, and the American people. Failing to reach the 60 votes needed to move the legislation forward under Senate rules, the Republican minority was once again able to stand in the way of the legislative agenda endorsed by the American people in the 2006 elections. Unflinching in their demand for taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil companies, the Republican minority stymied a bill that proactively combats global warming and seeks to break our country's addiction to foreign oil for a second time.
These obstructionist tactics are nothing new for a Republican Party not thrilled about being placed in the minority by an American electorate fed up with the corruption, cronyism, and incompetence that have come to define their years of control in Congress. The New York Times recently said that the Senate Republicans have a "death grip on the federal government." In less than one year alone, Senate Republicans are very close to breaking the two-year record for the number of filibusters!
As a Member of the chamber on the other side of the Capitol Building, this is extraordinarily frustrating. Earlier this year, the Democratic controlled House of Representatives successfully passed all of the twelve annual appropriations bills that put teachers in the classrooms, police on the streets, provides health care for seniors and veterans, and relief for the victims of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Not to mention, the bills provide resources for Homeland Security, bridge and tunnel safety, and medical research for diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
However, Senate Republicans, once again, are blocking this legislative package simply because President George W. Bush asked them to. Unwilling to compromise, the President and his Republican allies in Congress are threatening to shut down the federal government because a nearly $3 trillion budget is $11 billion over what the President originally requested. This should come as no surprise from a President who, with the support of a handful of his allies in the House of Representatives, once again vetoed the SCHIP bill yesterday, denying heath insurance to 10 million children.
The Republican Party has traditionally had the nickname, G.O.P. After blocking children's health insurance, a critical energy bill, eleven appropriations bills, and a host of other issues on the legislative calendar, it is clear what those three letters stand for: the Grand Obstructionist Party.