Senate Democrats

Senate Republicans: The “Grand Obstructionist Party”

While Senate Democrats are determined to move America in a new direction, Senate Republicans are doing their best to stop change at every turn.  Senate Republicans are forcing the Senate to waste hours upon hours debating meaningless motions – wasting Congress’ time and the American people’s time. Senate Democrats are trying to lead the way – but Senate Republicans are determined to stand in the way.

Republican Whip Senator Trent Lott in a Roll Call article dated April 18, 2007:

“The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail … so far it’s working for us.”

FACTS ON REPUBLICAN OBSTRUCTIONISM

  • Senate Republicans have obstructed almost every bill in the Senate – even ones with wide bipartisan support.
  • So far, in the first half of the first session of the 110th Congress, there have been THIRTEEN cloture votes on motions to proceed – each one wasting days of Senate time.  (110th Congress, Roll Call Votes #44, 51, 53, 74, 129, 132, 133, 162, 173, 207, 208, 227, and 228)
  • In comparison, in the first sessions of the 108th and 109th Congresses combined, there were a total of FOUR cloture votes on motions to proceed.

EIGHT times Republican obstruction tactics slowed critical legislation

  • Fulfilling the 9/11 Commission Recommendations (Passed 97-0, Roll Call Vote #53)
  • Improving security at our courts (Passed 93-3, Roll Call Vote #133)
  • Water Resources Development Act (Passed 89-7, Roll Call Vote #162)
  • A joint resolution to revise U.S. policy in Iraq (Passed 89-9, Roll Call Vote, #74)
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Passed 69-23, Roll Call Vote #173)
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Passed 64-35, Roll Call Vote #228)
  • CLEAN Energy Act (Passed 91-0, Roll Call Vote #208)
  • Funding for the Intelligence Community (Passed 94-3, Roll Call Vote #129) 

FOUR times Republicans blocked legislation from being debated

  • Senate Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage. (54-43, Roll Call Vote #23)
  • Senate Republicans blocked ethics reforms (Rejected 51-46, Roll Call Vote #16)
  • Senate Republicans blocked comprehensive immigration reform (Rejected 45-50, Roll Call Vote #206)
  • Senate Republicans blocked funding for renewable energy (Rejected 57-36, Roll Call Vote #223)

FOUR times Republicans stopped bills from reaching a vote

  • Senate Republicans blocked funding for the intelligence community.  (Rejected 41-40, Roll Call Vote #130)
  • Senate Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage. (54-43, Roll Call Vote #23)
  • Senate Republicans blocked ethics reforms (Rejected 51-46, Roll Call Vote #16)
  • Senate Republicans blocked funding for renewable energy (Rejected 57-36, Roll Call Vote #223)

TWICE Republicans blocked bills from going to conference

  • Senate Republicans blocked appointing conferees on the 9/11 Commission Recommendations (6/26/07)
  • Senate Republicans blocked appointing conferees on ethics reform (6/26/07)


THE EFFECTS OF OBSTRUCTIONISM

Senate Republicans blocked funding for the intelligence community…  “For the second day in a row, Senate Republicans Tuesday blocked a Democratic attempt to limit debate on the FY07 intelligence authorization bill and open the way for its approval.  The vote on the cloture motion was 50-45. Sixty votes were needed for approval.  Only two Republicans, Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, supported the motion.  Before the vote, Intelligence Chairman Rockefeller called on Republicans to ‘put politics aside’ and vote for cloture…Earlier in the day, the Senate accepted several amendments proposed by Rockefeller to address objections by the White House last week when it threatened to veto the legislation.” (National Journal Congress Daily, 4/18/07)

…denying our country the tools to fight the war on terror. This bill would have provided funding for the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the U.S. government’s 15 intelligence agencies and entities, including the CIA, FBI and NSA.  It would have provided funds for combating terrorism, enhancing our intelligence-collection capabilities, and strengthening intelligence oversight.  (DPC Report)

Senate Republicans blocked a vote on reforming the Medicare Prescription Drug plan…“Senate Republicans yesterday blocked a bill that would permit the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, a measure backed by Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy and other Democrats.  The 55-42 vote was five short of what Democrats needed to end debate and begin voting. While Democrats hold majorities in the US House and Senate, yesterday’s procedural move by Republicans could indicate rough waters for other proposals that affect pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including legislation to permit generic versions of biologic drugs.” (Boston Globe, 4/19/07)

…and denied seniors lower prescription drug prices.  S. 3, would have repealed the current-law prohibition on Medicare’s using the bargaining power of its 43 million beneficiaries to negotiate lower prescription drug prices.  S.3 would also make Medicare drug plans more accountable and improve the level of information available to seniors about prescription drugs.  In blocking S. 3 from even being debated, Senate Republicans have resorted to obstructionism in an effort to protect the drug industry at the expense of our seniors.  (DPC Report)

Senate Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage… “Senate Republicans rejected an effort by Democrats to pass minimum-wage legislation without breaks for small businesses on Wednesday, setting the stage for a potential impasse with the House, where lawmakers are demanding a ‘clean’ bill.  The Senate vote of 54 to 43 was six votes short of the 60 needed to move ahead with a wage measure that does not include tax benefits for employers. Earlier this month, the Senate Finance Committee voted to add $8.3 billion in tax breaks to the bill.” (New York Times, 1/25/07)

…delaying a much needed raise for hard-working Americans.  H.R. 2 would have raised the minimum wage for the first time in ten years to $7.25.  Senate Republicans preferred to have hard-working Americans continue to wait.  (DPC Report)

Senate Republicans are blocking the appointment of conferees on the 9/11 Commission Recommendations… “In blocking the appointment of conferees for the bill, Senate Republicans are leaving open/delaying implementation of reforms and initiatives that will fill/ dangerous gaps in our homeland security and enable us to more effectively guard against and mitigate terrorist threats.” (DPC Report)

…leaving the United States vulnerable to terrorist threats.  “The Senate passed legislation yesterday on a 60-38 vote to implement recommendations of the September 11 commission, despite the threat of a presidential veto over a provision to allow airport screeners to unionize. The measure calls for cargo on passenger planes to be screened as carefully as luggage, guarantees each state its share of $3.1 billion in annual security funding for the next three years, with $1.3 billion allocated for high-risk urban areas, and creates an emergency-communications grant program.” (Washington Times, 3/14/07)

Senate Republicans are blocking the appointment of conferees on ethics reform… “Despite voting overwhelmingly for the ethics bill when the measure was on the floor today, Senate Republicans blocked the appointment of conferees to the bill and in so doing stopped the legislation dead in its tracks and further delayed the effort to clean-up politics in Washington.” (DPC Report)

…halting progress on the “most significant ethics reform since Watergate.”  “The Senate legislation, hailed by proponents as the most significant ethics reform since Watergate, would ban gifts, meals and travel funded by lobbyists, and would force lawmakers to attach their names to special-interest provisions and pet projects that they slip into bills. Lawmakers would have to pay charter rates on corporate jets, not the far-cheaper first-class rates they pay now.” (Washington Post, 1/19/07)

Senate Republicans are blocking a bill to bring transparency to campaign fundraising…“The search continues for the mysterious Republican senator or senators who have blocked legislation that would require senators to file campaign disclosure forms electronically…Feinstein added that if the senators do not want to be identified, she would like McConnell to show her the proposed amendments. If they have bipartisan support, Feinstein said, she might be able to change the bill accordingly. (The Washington Post, 05/09/07)

…denying the American people the right to know who funds Senate campaigns.  “The bill would end the Senate practice by which senators and Senate candidates file their campaign disclosure reports on paper, which then requires the Federal Election Commission to have them input electronically, delaying their release. House members and party campaign committees have filed electronically for years.  Feinstein has sought to pass the bill by unanimous consent, which would not allow for debate or amendments. Senate rules allow any senator anonymously to block such passage.” (Washington Post, 5/9/07)

Senate Republicans blocked a vote on holding Attorney General Gonzales accountable… “Senate Republicans blocked a vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday, dashing Democratic hopes of embarrassing Gonzales and his boss, President George W. Bush, with a formal demand for his ouster.” (Reuters, 06/11/07)

…refusing to hold the Attorney General accountable.  This resolution would have expressed Congress’s and the American people’s disappointment with the performance of Alberto Gonzales as the Attorney General of the United States. Recent questions have been raised about the Attorney General’s role in last year’s firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for alleged political reasons and about the forthrightness of his statements regarding those firings.  Other serious concerns involve Mr. Gonzales’s role in 1) the misuse of National Security Letters by the Federal Bureau Investigation; 2) allowing the National Security Agency to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in conducting domestic warrant-less wiretapping; 3) politicizing the hiring of career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice; and 4) developing the legal framework for the use of torture and the creation of military commissions.

Senate Republicans blocked legislation to make forming unions easier… “Senate Republicans have vowed to kill organized labor’s top legislative priority of the year, and it looks like they’ll soon get their chance. The measure, which would make it easier for workers to form unions, cleared the House earlier this year on a party-line vote. It’s been awaiting action in the Senate since March, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is circulating word that he’ll seek passage before lawmakers begin their July 4 vacation.” (Associated Press, 06/15/07)

…siding with corporations against average American workers.  The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), sponsored by Senate and House Democrats, would level the playing field and restore workers’ freedom to form unions and collectively bargain by: 1) strengthening penalties for companies that coerce, intimidate, or retaliate against employees during an organizing campaign or during negotiations for a first contract; 2) establishing a timeline for negotiating a first contract that gets employers to the table, and gives the parties the option of mediation and binding arbitration when employers and workers cannot agree on a first contract; and 3) giving employees the choice of selecting a union via majority sign-up over an election. (DPC Report)

Senate Republicans delayed debate on Iraq for weeks…  “For weeks, Republican leaders have used procedural maneuvers to delay a debate over Iraq” (The New York Times, 03/27/07)

…and 480 soldiers have lost their lives since the President’s failed surge strategy began.  (Department of Defense Casualty Reports)

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