At his press conference today, Minority Leader McConnell claimed that his record-setting use of filibusters to slow the process in the Senate was a tool to stop overly partisan legislation. But barely an hour after his press conference discussing the virtues of bipartisanship, McConnell went to the Senate floor and objected to a motion by Leader Reid to appoint Senate conferees on the Children’s Health Insurance reauthorization, further obstructing bipartisan legislation. In addition, on issue after issue, McConnell and his Republican colleagues have used filibusters to force time-consuming cloture votes, regardless of the degree of bipartisan support the underlying bills receive. The record is clear that Senator McConnell and his colleagues are using obstruction as a political tool for their own uses.
FICTION: Senator McConnell Wants to Put Partisanship Behind Him, Get Down to the Basic Work of Government. During his press conference, Senator McConnell said, “I would suggest this might be a good time to, kind of, put the high level of partisanship aside and try to do the basic work of government, which we’ve not been able to do so far.” [McConnell Press Conference, 9/4/07]
FACT: Senator McConnell Objected to Appointing Conferees on Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization. On the Senate floor, McConnell objected to a motion by Senator Reid to appoint conferees on the Children’s Health Insurance reauthorization bill, saying, “Mr. President, the message has not yet been received, and, therefore, the request is a little premature. We would need to consult with our colleagues on this when they receive the request from the House. And, therefore, for the time being I would object.” [Senate Floor Proceedings, 9/4/07]
Graphic: McClatchy, 7/20/07
FICTION: Senator McConnell Said He Employed Obstruction Tactics Because of Democrats’ Overly Partisan Agenda:
QUESTION: Senator, Democrats are going to respond to your arguments (inaudible) you tripped them up at every opportunity, and you filibustered bills and now are complaining that they’ve stumbled. Could you respond to that?
McCONNELL: Yes. I’ll be happy to respond to that. The majority has the responsibility to set the agenda. If you set an overly partisan agenda, you get an — what they would argue is an overly partisan response. [McConnell Press Conference, 9/4/07]
FACT: McConnell and Senate Republicans Have Obstructed Many Bipartisan and Non-Controversial Bills.
- Republicans Forced a Cloture Vote on Landmark Ethics Reform Bill – Motion to Concur with House Bill Passed With 34 Republican Votes. Republicans forced a cloture vote on the ethics and lobbying reform bill. Shortly thereafter, the Senate passed a motion to concur with the House, clearing the bill for the President’s signature on a vote of 83-14, with 34 Republicans supporting the motion. [Senate Vote #293, S. 1, 8/2/07; Senate Vote #294, S. 1, 8/2/07]
- Republicans Forced a Cloture Vote on Children’s Health Insurance Program – Reauthorization Bill Passed With 17 Republican Votes. Republicans forced a cloture vote on the small business tax breaks bill that was the vehicle for the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization. The Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization passed the Senate 67-32, with 17 Republicans supporting the bill. [Senate Vote #285, HR 976, 7/30/07; Senate Vote #306, HR 976, 8/2/07]
- Republicans Forced TWO Cloture Votes on the Senate Energy Bill – Bill Passed With 20 Republican Votes. Republicans forced a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the bill and on the bill itself during debate on the Senate energy bill. The first cloture vote passed 91-0, with 45 Republicans voting in favor of cloture. The bill passed the Senate 65-27, with 20 Republicans supporting the bill. [Senate Vote #208, HR 6, 6/11/07; Senate Vote #225, HR 6, 6/21/07; Senate Vote #226, HR 6, 6/21/07]
- Republicans Forced Cloture Vote on Food and Drug Administration Overhaul – Bill Passed With No Republicans Opposing It. Republicans forced a cloture vote on the Kennedy Substitute Amendment which became the basis for the FDA Overhaul bill. The bill passed the Senate 93-1 with no Republicans opposing the bill. [Senate Vote #152, S. 1082, 5/7/07; Senate Vote #157, S. 1082, 5/9/07]
- Republicans Forced Cloture Vote on Court Security Bill – Bill Passed With No Republicans Opposing It. Republicans forced a cloture vote on the court security bill. The bill passed the Senate 97-0. [Senate Vote #133, S. 378, 4/18/07; Senate Vote #135, S. 378, 4/19/07]
- Republicans Forced TWO Cloture Votes on 9/11 Recommendations –Bill Passed With 10 Republicans in Support and the Conference Report Passed With 37 Republicans Supporting It. Republicans forced a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the 9/11 Recommendations bill and on the Reid Substitute Amendment which became the basis for the Senate version of the bill. The Senate passed the bill 60-38, with 10 Republicans supporting the bill. In addition, the Senate passed the conference report 85-8, with 37 Republicans votes in favor. [Senate Vote #53, S. 4, 2/27/07; Senate Vote #69, S. 4, 3/9/07; Senate Vote #73, S. 4, 3/13/07; Senate Vote #284, HR. 1, 7/26/07]
- Republicans Forced a Cloture Vote on Continuing Resolution – Resolution Passed With 33 Republicans Supporting It. Republicans forced a cloture vote on the continuing resolution providing appropriations for the remainder of the 2007 fiscal year. The Senate passed the bill 81-15, with 33 Republicans supporting it. [Senate Vote #46, H. J. Res. 20, 2/13/07; Senate Vote #48, H. J. Res. 20, 2/14/07]
- Republicans Forced a Cloture Vote on the Minimum Wage Increase – Bill Passed With 45 Republicans Supporting It. Republicans forced a cloture vote on a bill to raise the minimum wage and provide small business tax incentives. The Senate passed the bill 94-3, with 45 Republicans supporting it. [Senate Vote #39, HR. 2, 1/31/07; Senate Vote #42, HR. 2, 2/1/07]
- Cloture Votes on Bipartisan and Non-Controversial Bills Have Forced More Than 300 Hours of Additional Debate. In addition to the time spent debating and voting for cloture on these bipartisan and non-controversial bills, the votes have forced an additional 300 hours of debate, or 25 additional 12 hour legislative days.