Note: I participated in today’s press conference and below is my write up:
The good news is that the Democrats are fighting back against the Republicans’ well planned strategy to block all legislation and then label this a “do nothing Congress.”
And make no mistake, my friends, this is a very carefully thought out strategy to filibuster or veto every spending bill, every reform, and every piece of legislation that would help the lives of ordinary Americans. What it also is, though, is an attempt to thwart the will of the voters who elected Democrats to the Senate and the House in 2006 to end the war in Iraq and clean up the Republican mess of the last twelve years.
Some of the bills Republicans have filibustered, or the president has vetoed or threatened to veto, include healthcare reform, a prescription drug plan for senior citizens, healthcare for children whose parents often hold two or more jobs but can’t afford basic medical services for their kids, and any attempt to change course in Iraq. Indeed, dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq was one of the major factors that led to the ouster of Republicans in 06 and it’s the most important issue fueling public anger right now. And it’s Republicans who are blocking any attempt to bring sanity to our Iraqi strategy now.
In addition, they have blocked bills for safety measures, to make student loans more affordable, to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, environmental legislation to fight global warming – indeed many of them even deny there is global warming.
Robert Borsage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, in a press conference with media and bloggers today, likened these Republicans to someone who “mugs the mailman then complains about mail delivery.”
But Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), Representative George Miller (D-Calif), and Representative Jan Schakowksy (D-Ill) joined Borsage and Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, to fight back against these tactics of obstruction.
The also pointed out that despite the Republicans’ attempts to block legislation that benefits the average American, the Congress has indeed succeeded and passed some important bills that improve lives including raising the minimum wage, and healthcare for children, which just passed the other day. Despite passing with 68 votes, making it virtually veto proof, the president is threatening to use his veto power.
Indeed, the Republicans have used the filibuster 43 times, making this the most filibusters in history, triple the previous record, and the president has used the veto 31 times from May through August.
To combat this, for the month of August, Democrats and their allies vow to hold press conferences, on-line discussions, and appearances on talk radio and television to shine a light on the Republicans obstructionist agenda to thwart the will of the American people.
In addition to a month long campaign targeting Republican senators including Mitch McConnell, John Sunnunu, Pete Dominici, Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, John Warner, Elizabeth Dole, Charles Grassley and Voinavich for their contributions to the politics of obstructionism, Democrats are airing this video, with Jason Alexander, from YouTube.
In doing so, they hope the Republican strategy will have a boomerang effect and when the GOP legislators hit their districts, the summer environment will be “hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of a car” when they meet with their constituents and hold their town meetings.
Despite the new militancy, the Democrats vowed they will not change the Senate rules or limit the legitimate voice of the minority, or the voice of conscience. Remembering their years as the minority party, they will vow no “nuclear options” to strip away the filibuster. But they do promise to shine the sunlight on the way Republicans are now abusing it and using it as a weapon of mass obstruction.