Nel's New Day

January 16, 2022

Republicans Love Manchinema for Fighting Filibuster

“We have but one democracy. We can only survive, we can only keep her, if we do so together.” That was one statement in Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) speech announcing that she was “together” with the Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) to oppose the filibuster and destroy the possibility for passing the voting rights bill to protect democracy. She was already “together” with Republicans—and Manchin—in opposing jobs and other benefits for people in the United States through the Build Back Better bill. 

Sinema’s speech was less than 45 minutes before President Joe Biden came to ask all 50 Democratic senators to change Senate rules for only allowing the voting rights legislation. She concluded:

“I am committed to doing my part to avoid toxic political rhetoric, to build bridges, to forge common ground, and to achieve lasting results for Arizona and this country.”

Her aim is for personal bridges and common ground with Republicans but not Democrats plus authoritarianism in both “Arizona and this country.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is ecstatic about this victory with Manchin and Sinema, which he thinks could lead him back to being Senate Majority Leader in 2023. Therefore, McConnell is working harder to lie in his hypocrisy and threats to destroy Democrats if they change the filibuster. After pandering to the behavior of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for over four years, McConnell called Biden “profoundly unpresidential” in his Georgia speech about voting rights. McConnell’s first favor for DDT was to hold up the nomination for Supreme Court justice with no hearing for 293 days so that DDT could nominate Neil Gorsuch, who justified his wiping out a vaccine mandate with ignorance about the extent of the pandemic danger. McConnell then pushed the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s replacement to eight days before the election that DDT lost and Biden won—after declaring four years earlier that “the people should decide.” McConnell declared, “Major changes need major buy-in.

The most prominent anti-abortion group is leading the charge to keep the filibuster, from the Dutch word for pirates. Toward that end, the Susan B. Anthony List co-founded the misnamed Election Transparency Initiative to block the federal voting rights bill. Allowing all eligible people would permit them to vote for reproductive rights. Anti-abortionists’ need for the filibuster is not a call for a legislative tradition—just rigging laws for the conservatives. And their advertising praises Manchin and Sinema. The group also opposes the addition of seats to the supreme Court because they already have six conservatives to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade, permitting abortion for the first trimester.

McConnell wields the filibuster as a political tool that he controls; after January 6, he used it to block an independent bipartisan commission. GOP senators would have voted for either one of the voting rights bills, but McConnell didn’t allow even a debate on either one. He claimed the end of the filibuster would cause a takeover, but he’s already done that with the help of two Democratic senators. 

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner published evidence against the GOP arguments for keeping the filibuster that blocks legislation:

With the increased use of the filibuster, the Senate has become increasingly partisan.

The use of the filibuster blocks collaboration: Republicans are now evading any responsibility to shape bills on education, climate change, taxes, immigration, war, etc.  

The filibuster permits senators to hide from voting on any bills, and thus hide sharing their political positions from the voters.

The U.S. public becomes more and more angry about congressional gridlock, and the filibuster promotes it.

Like Republicans, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) either knows nothing about the filibuster or flat-out lies about it. Recently, he touted the “tradition” of the practice for “232 years.” The Founding Fathers, however, were opposed to supermajorities and didn’t not put the filibuster into the 232-year-old U.S. Constitution. “Father of the Constitution” James Madison wrote that the requirement for supermajority would reverse “the fundamental principle of free government,” transferring the power to the minority. Alexander Hamilton called it a “poison” and wrong “to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser… [If] a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority,” [the result would be] “tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.”

The filibuster requires only 41 senators to block any bill from moving forward. Those 41 Republicans represent only 21 percent of the U.S. population for the voting rights bill supported by 67 percent of the population. The only issues requiring a supermajority by the Founding Fathers is impeachment, expulsion of members, overriding a presidential veto, ratification of treaties, and constitutional amendments. True textualists in the Supreme Court instead of the faux ones sitting on the bench would overturn the filibuster.

For almost a century after the Civil War, the filibuster, first used in 1841, was primarily used to block rights for Blacks such as voting and anti-lynching. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson’s Senate ended filibusters with a two-thirds vote, and the number was dropped to 60 in the 1970s. At that time, the rules also didn’t require non-stop talking to continue the filibuster: it just needed 41 votes. When the Democrats took the Senate and McConnell became Senate Minority Leader in 2007, the Republicans began using the filibuster with excessive frequency. In 2009 when Barack Obama became president, the GOP minority blocked every significant piece of legislation because of the 60-vote requirement. The 67 filibusters that year were double the two decades between 1950 and 1969. The next year added another 60 filibusters.

Sinema’s fake flowery speech came after the House passed a bill with new voting rights protections with a party line vote of 220 to 203. The bill came from a combination of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with a measure covering NASA. The Senate can then be brought directly to the floor for debate without a filibuster although Republicans can block it from the final vote.

One important provision of the voting bill, which Republicans find offensive, was the restoration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provision requiring permission for new election laws by states with histories of voting rights violation. When the Supreme Court struck down that provision in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts recommended Congress replace the provision with a law. Republicans also find no voter suppression in the 33 laws already passed by 19 states since the 2020 election, laws that highly restrict access to submitting ballots.  [visual: voting Reich voting poster]

Other provisions of the House voting rights bill:

  • Fifteen days of early voting.
  • Easier voter registration, including online registration and automatic registration at state motor vehicle agencies.
  • Same-day and automatic registration.
  • Removal of election officials without justification made more difficult.
  • Protection of election workers and records, making it a federal crime to intimidate, threaten, or coerce election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers doing their jobs.
  • Voters going to court ensuring their votes are’t eliminated made easier.
  • Ability to vote by mail for any reason.
  • National standard of forms with wide range of identifying documents and electronic copies for states requiring voter ID.
  • Election Day a national holiday
  • Keep voting lines to 30 minutes or fewer.
  • Creation of or increased penalties for intimidating and deceiving voters with disinformation about elections.
  • Restoration of federal voting rights to people with felony convictions after their release from prison.
  • Outlawing of partisan gerrymandering for congressional maps with neutral redistricting standards and transparency in the process.
  • Protection of election workers and records, making it a federal crime to intimidate, threaten, or coerce election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers doing their jobs.
  • Requirements and regulations keeping election materials from use in partisan ballot reviews.
  • Disclosure of donations by doors spending over $10,000 in one election reporting cycle.
  • New rules to separate super PAC operations from campaigns.
  • Small-donor matching program for House candidates who opt in.
  • Federal Election Commission permitted to be less dependent on a majority of members for new investigations by allowing the commission’s general council to investigate and issue subpoenas.
  • Addition of Native American Voting Right Act to make it easier for voters on tribal lands such as polling sites and voter registration on tribal lands.

Despite the rule of the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may have an alternative to the requirement for 60 votes to even debate the voting rights bill. A process called “messages between the houses” moves bills back and forth between the two congressional chambers. It has been used for both of them to agree on the final bill’s language. Usually done for amendments, these “messages” can be put before the Senate without debate. Attaching the voting rights bill to the NASA bill, already passed several times between the chambers, can remove the filibuster for the voting rights bill. This process may not get the 50 necessary votes to pass the Senate, but it forces naysayers to openly vote against rights for people.  [visual: voting nice sticker]

January 3, 2022

2022: The GOP March to Fascism

A year ago, hopes were high after Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) had to leave the White House after the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. The plan for mass vaccinations was ready to roll, and reasonable people hoped DDT would disappear at Mar-a-Lago. But then came the insurrection on January 6 when DDT’s followers attacked the U.S. Capitol to overturn the election, and the GOP preparation for another coup continued. Despite over 100 judges ruling that the 2020 election had no wide-spread fraud and the failure of even Arizona’s $6 million ballot-counting by a private company, DDT and his followers—including congressional members—lie about a stolen election, inciting more violence. Texas also failed to change votes, and Wisconsin starts a new “audit” every time the old can’t find fraud.

Biden’s economy is far better than during the past four years, but the mainstream and far-right media refuse to publicize positive information. If the bull market, by now with highly overvalued stocks, turns bearish, it can devolve into another depression. The media calls Biden soft while he plays hardball with Vladimir Putin involving Russian threats against Ukraine—ironic DDT ‘s being Putin’s BFF, even allowing Russians to spy inside the Oval Office. China gallops ahead of the U.S. after DDT failed to manage the problems. Congressional hawks cry for blood, threatening world wars, speeding climate warming, and destroying security and economic growth.

The media may beat up on Biden to increase its audience, seriously shrinking without DDT in the White House. It made hay criticizing the withdrawal from Afghanistan and ignored the collapse’s trajectory for 20 years since George W. Bush declared a preemptive war. The media works on the same sensationalism it got from DDT.  

This year’s elections in other countries will help determine the global direction toward democracy or siding with China. South Korea (March 9) and France (April 10 and April 24 runoff) will decide whether to keep a progressive leader while Australia (probably mid-May) will determine whether it has a conservative Parliament. Its decision will determine relationships with the U.S. or China. Sweden’s center-right parties want to take over Parliament (September 11), and Western European far-right is on the rise.

Polls for the presidential election of Philippines (May 9), already leaning toward China, give a strong lead to the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos with current President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter running for vice-president. In Brazil, leftist leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who governed the country from 2003 to 2011, has a comfortable lead for October’s election after the Supreme Court threw out his conviction of corruption. Right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, known as the Trump of South America, is trailing by 30 percent, and Serge Moro, the judge who help to put Lula into jail, has only six percent.

Before DDT lost his election, he endorsed the authoritarian Bolsonaro, and four days before Poland’s election day last July, he endorsed the winner, incumbent President Andrzej Duda, for his restrictions on the judiciary, media, and civil society. Now he formally supports Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in more opposition to democracy. Because of gerrymandered districts, the election in April or May will likely go to Orbán who consolidated hundreds of media outlets to be controlled by political allies, gamed elections, and expanded his power with the excuse of the pandemic. The title of a Vox report was “How Democracy Died in Hungary.”

Thomas Homer-Dixon, a political science professor at a British Columbia University only 35 miles north of the U.S., wrote an op-ed for Globe and Mail about how the United States could be ruled by a fascist dictator eight years from now. The piece covers implications for Canada, for example if “the U.S. regime demands” the return of “high-profile political refugees fleeing persecution.” The entire piece is here.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of two Republicans on the nine-member House investigation committee, said the committee might consider criminal charges against DDT because he did nothing to halt the insurrection for the first 187 minutes. She said, “The Committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred.” Twice, he ignored pleas from his daughter Ivanka Trump to go to the nearby briefing room and tell his followers to “stop,” “to stand down,” “to go home.” She added that the committee knows other people, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), asked DDT to tell his supporters to stop the violence.

According to Cheney, one criminal statute without question is “dereliction of duty,” and the committee must “look at … enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty.” She declared that DDT is “at war with the rule of law” and if he repeats the lies about a “stolen election,” he does so, knowing that violence will ensue. DDT plans to do exactly that during a press conference on January 6 at exactly the same time as the Capitol prayer service. Cheney called on her Republican party to choose between being “loyal to Donald Trump or … to the constitution.” She concluded, “We cannot be both.”  

Last year, Democrats passed at least a dozen major bills, including a large infrastructure bill and more financial assistance for a country suffering from the disease that DDT permitted to continue as a benefit to his political campaigning. Yet right-wing media, sometimes with the assistance of mainstream media, claim that Biden has accomplished nothing because two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), oppose both the jobs bill, Build Back Better, and the bill to protect voting rights for everyone in red states, both to be addressed during the upcoming year. An appropriations bill must be passed by February 13 to keep the country from shutting down.  

To address the looming monster of the 2022 elections, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he will force a vote by January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to change the filibuster if GOP senators block voting rights legislation. A change requires only 50 votes, but Manchin and Sinema block altering it. Sinema even opposes voting rights reform, a serious problem in many states since 2013 when the Roberts Supreme Court overturned part of the 1966 Voting Rights Act. Democrats may try to make the filibuster more difficult that the current method in which one person can stop debate on a bill by calling in with that request.

Voter reform is vital. At least one state, Georgia, permits the legislature to overturn the legal vote in an election by selecting electoral voters who reject the ballot majority. In one poll, only 13 percent was “very confident” GOP state officials would accept election results if Republicans lose.

DDT and his conservative GOP followers, including legislative leadership, work to create another year of turbulence, but polls reflect they don’t necessarily represent the majority of the people. In an ABC News-Ipsos poll, 72 percent agree that the January 6 rioters threatened democracy, and 58 percent think DDT has a great deal or good amount of responsibility for the insurrection. Only 25 percent think DDT has no responsibility for the attack. The media usually reports only the large percentage of Republicans who refused to recognize Biden as the president, but almost two-thirds of the general population accept Biden as being legitmately elected president. Unfortunately, 68 percent of respondents to a CBS poll expect more violence after January 6, 2021.

The courts are also home to a building storm in the next year. Recently, DDT’s two older children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, refuse to comply with subpoenas from New York AG Letitia James for a civil inquiry into the Trump Organization’s possible inflation of assets value for bank loans and understatements of these values elsewhere to reduce taxes. James already questioned DDT’s younger son, Eric, in her office. She cannot file criminal charges in the case but is involved with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s criminal investigation into DDT’s business affairs. DDT’s lawsuit against the civil inquiry is based on his opinion of “political animus” and the claim that his testimony could be used against him, violating his Fifth Amendment rights.   

Always litigious, DDT will likely be embroiled in lawsuits until he dies. He does it to intimidate, to stall, to cost people money, to make news, to look impressive—almost any reason except to win. And now they aren’t costing him any money; GOP donors are paying for them. Before the 2020 election, he and his businesses were part of 4,095 lawsuits during three decades, over 2,100 as the plaintiff. Biden won the 2020 election, but DDT is still suing to overturn the election. Now he’s in the middle of lawsuits to secrete his shady—possibly illegal—involvement in overturning the election and his business affairs. Here is an amazing list and description of notable cases occurring or starting while he was in the White House.

There’s much more about upcoming events, but that’s for another time. As Rachel Maddow would say, “Watch this space.”

October 6, 2021

Facebook Faces Congress, McConnell Blinks, Texas Loses

Congressional lawmakers have investigated Facebook for almost five years for such issues as privacy abuses, foreign disinformation, and a historic Federal Trade Commission antitrust case. In 2019, the company paid a record-setting $5 billion fine for privacy abuses. This week brings more confrontations. Sunday, the CBS news show 60 Minutes featured a whistleblower about the company’s internal activities; Monday, the entire Facebook system went down for six hours; and Tuesday, the whistleblower testified at a Congressional hearing about Facebook’s policies.   

First, the massive outage. Starting before noon EST on Monday, the outage also took Facebook’s Instagram, WhatsApp, and other apps for its 2.85 billion active users. Loss of ad revenue cost the company $60 million, and the five-percent drop of stock shares, $326.23 per share, caused the owner, Mark Zuckerberg, to lose $7 billion. Because Facebook controls all its workers’ technology—including cellphones and computers—employees couldn’t even get into their office because their cards wouldn’t work in the locks.

 

Facebook explained the outage was self-inflicted, probably accidentally. “Configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers” blocked communication and set off a series of network failures. Basically, the failure of the system stopped in the internet from recognizing online domain names and couldn’t send any information. Other organizations were disrupted and slowed because billions of devices kept looking for the coordinates of Facebook and its apps. As annoying as the outage was for pleasure users, businesses using the social network lost almost a day of work for advertising, connecting with customers, and selling products and services. Facebook has an e-commerce platform, Facebook Marketplace.

Second, the whistleblower. In last month’s “Facebook Files,” the Wall Street Journal exposed documents about the company’s willingness to do anything to make money. “Whitelisted” high profile users were exempted from regular users’ rules. Instagram pushes ideal air-brushed female body images, emotionally damaging teenage girls. Criminals including human traffickers and drug smugglers are making more and more use of Facebook without being stopped despite it being reported. 

Polarizing messages, including those encouraging the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and less restrictions on disinformation were pushed to increase business. New York Times technology journalist Kevin Roose reported the laxness on Facebook’s desire to attract more customers. The departure of younger users to other sites such as TikTok while older people stay with Facebook, could cause a 45-percent possible drop in the next two years.

The anonymous whistleblower who leaked tens of thousands of pages of company research outed herself on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes as former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. She told interviewer Scott Pelley that Facebook misled investors about their lack of efforts to eliminate violence, disinformation, and other harmful content. The company constantly wants to maximize profits over verifying disinformation, and Haugen’s lawyers have filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Haugen stated Facebook took measures to prevent disinformation before the 2020 election but dropped protections after the election “to prioritize growth over safety.” She added, “That really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.” Haugen said she didn’t realize how much Facebook’s disinformation fomented violence and other problems in the world before she went to work for them.

During her 60 Minutes interview, Haugen explained the connection between Instagram and teen girls’ emotional problems:

“As these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed. And it actually makes them use the app more. And so, they end up in this feedback cycle where they hate their bodies more and more.”

Facebook tried to defend itself. Before 60 Minutes, the company’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg told CNN that Facebook causing the January 6 violence “ludicrous.” He blamed “the people who inflicted the violence and those who encouraged them, including then-President Trump and candidly many other people in the media who were encouraging the assertion that the election was stolen.” He claimed Facebook was not to blame for pushing the same information. 

At the same time as the Facebook outage, Facebook’s Antigone Davis appeared live on CNBC to defend the company against the whistleblower’s negative remarks on 60 Minutes. Davis had earlier testified to Congress against the “Facebook Files,” including the company’s research showing Instagram made teen girls’ body image issues worse. 

Third, Haugen’s testimony Tuesday before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security about her knowledge regarding Facebook policies. About Facebook’s research, she said Instagram made body issues worse for 1 in 3 teenage girls, information the company decided not to share. Despite Facebook touting its methods to stop disinformation, its own algorithms not only addressed one percent of hate violent speech but also pushed disinformation.

Haugen also had specific answers to questions such as the decisionmaker for such concepts as an Instagram for children, an idea dropped after backlash and the research about Instagram already damaging teenagers. Last week, Davis, a Facebook executive, avoided a question about who would make decisions, but Haugen said, “The buck stops with Mark [Zuckerberg].” She explained that no other powerful company is controlled as Facebook is, with Zuckerberg holding over 55 percent of the company’s voting shares.

The testimony brought an unusual bipartisan response from lawmakers because “every part of the country has the harms that are inflicted by Facebook and Instagram,” according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) slammed lobbyists for the lack of progress in updating privacy laws, and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) called for swift congressional action. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) backed the reform of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) stated Congress will take action whether Facebook cooperates or not. Lawmakers accused Facebook of concealing its own research and said they would further investigate.

During Haugen’s testimony, Facebook employees texted lawmakers with smears against Haugen who had been a data scientist with the company. They claimed she had not directly worked on child safety or Instagram, which Haugen had already established, and called her untrustworthy. Other employees denied Haugen’s testimony. CEO Zuckerberg wrote, “We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health.”

The question is whether conservative lawmakers will take any action. The FTC could force Facebook to sell off holdings such as Instagram but cannot force a change in the company’s business practices. If Zuckerberg doesn’t like changes in the law, he can just move Facebook and its information to any other country in the world. For the moment, Zuckerberg is being cautious—stopping research which could cause problems and using “reputational reviews” for potential changes. People have short memories and may move on to other scandals.

Meanwhile, whistleblower Frances Haugen isn’t done. In an interview today, her lawyer said, “There’s more to come.” He also said his legal team has seen a “surge” in the number of whistleblowers from the tech industry, some of it about the January 6 insurrection. With support from “Whistleblower Aid,” Haugen will also be making more appearances, if her website is any indication.

The Senate has briefly averted another disaster: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave Republicans permission to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling—until December. Maybe because President Joe Biden supported doing away with the filibuster, the century-old, Senate-created rule mandating 60 votes to debate any measure. Without the filibuster, Democrats could pass bills with a simple majority. Earlier Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had offered Democratic votes in a straight up-and-down vote without a filibuster, but McConnell turned it down. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the government runs out of money on October 18 without raising the debt ceiling.

Republicans have consistently lied about their not being to blame for the $7.8 trillion debt they and Deposed Donald Trump incurred during his four-year term. McConnell may have “blinked” on his former refusal to allow Republicans to vote for an increase because he figured out that Republicans might be smarter than he figured—that people who lost their unemployment, food stamps, Social Security, etc. might realize the GOP was to blame. The past week has also seen horrific instability in the U.S. stocks hitting the middle-class and wealthy, and business leaders have also been pressuring McConnell to raise the debt ceiling.

One glitch in a bipartisan vote is McConnell’s $300 billion cap on the debt ceiling increase, less than four percent of the debt increased during DDT’s term. McConnell wants Democrats to use their chance to pass a reconciliation on raising the debt ceiling, which would keep them from using that process for the infrastructure bill. 

In a victory for human rights, a federal judge in Texas blocked the unconstitutional anti-choice law invoking the assistance of vigilantes around the world to stop abortions after six weeks of human fetal development. The Supreme Court has already refused to stop the law until it goes through the judicial process. The judge’s order blocks any officer of the state, including state court judges and court clerks, from enforcing the abortion ban in any way. It also ordered Texas to take proactive steps to inform all court officials and private individuals that the law is currently blocked. The ruling follows a refusal from the Supreme Court to stop the law until it goes through the judicial process.

While Texas appeals the ruling, Whole Women’s Health will resume providing abortions after six weeks according to federal law although a reversal of the law by a higher court could be a legal risk to clinics. The Department of Justice is also bringing a lawsuit against Texas.

And tomorrow is another day.

September 21, 2021

Republicans Refuse to Pay Their Debt, DDT’s Election Fraud Goes Public

Just nine days before government funding expires on September 30, the House of Representatives voted to stop a shutdown of federal services by a party-line vote of 220-211. If the Senate passes the same measure, funding would continue until December 3, and the U.S. borrowing limit (aka debt ceiling) would be good until December 16, 2022. It also provides $28.6 billion in disaster relief and $6.3 billion to help Afghanistan evacuees.

GOP senators won’t make it easy. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) loves to make up irrational rules. For example, in 2016, he said that that a president could not appoint a Supreme Court justice within 11 months of the end of his term. That president was Democrat President Obama so McConnell’s rule didn’t last: in 2020, he put a new justice on the high court within 11 days of an election.

Now McConnell has invented a new rule about the debt ceiling. Last week, he said:

“Let me make it perfectly clear. The country must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised. But who does that depends on who the American people elect.”

He added:  

“They have the House, the Senate, and the presidency. It’s their obligation to govern. And, you know, the essence of governing is to raise the debt ceiling to cover the debt.”

McConnell invented a rule that no Republican would vote to increase the debt ceiling. That has already held true in the House vote. The Senate, however, has only 50 Democrats, and a GOP filibuster requires ten Republican senators to move the bill to a vote, something McConnell promised they would not do. McConnell wants all his Republicans to campaign against the “tax-and-spend liberals” despite the current debt increase came from the “tax-and-spend” Republicans for four years when the GOP greatly lowered taxes and spent money that they didn’t have. If all the Republicans stayed out of the way, Democrats could govern.

The rule from McConnell doesn’t apply when he needs Democrats; i.e., in 2019 when he wanted bipartisan support to increase the debt ceiling. He knows what Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen, formerly chair of the Federal Reserve, knows—“default … would precipitate a historic crisis.” McConnell wants all his Republicans to campaign against the “tax-and-spend liberals” despite the increase in the debt that needs to be covered came from the “tax-and-spend” Republicans for four years when the GOP greatly lowered taxes and spent money that they didn’t have. 

The debt ceiling always sounds as if the current Congress wants to spend more money, but this legal cap on how much money the federal government can owe to all its debtors—including other government accounts—happens when former administrations, in this case a Republican one, have approved spending over revenue. At the debt limit, the Treasury can no longer issue new bonds to fund spending over the revenue coming in. A 1917 law during World War I allowed Congress to wait for set debt limit expirations to raise the ceiling. The current debt limit of $28.5 trillion was reimposed on August 1 at the expiration of the two-year suspension signed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

The national debt doesn’t change with the increase in the debt ceiling; lifting the limit simply means the government can pay its previously incurred expenses. The Republicans who want to blame Democrats for the debt are the ones who participated in raising the debt ceiling several times without any debt reduction and using only GOP votes to pass the $1.9 trillion tax cut bill in 2017 under DDT’s term.

In his 2016 campaign, DDT promised to reduce the national debt, but he and his GOP-controlled Congress increased it $7.8 billion, about $23,500 new federal debt for everyone in the U.S. Only George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln had higher relative debt increases, but they had either two foreign conflicts or a civil war. DDT promised his massive tax cuts and tariffs would eliminate the budget deficit so that the U.S. could pay down its debt. It never happened.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) explained how Republicans were responsible for a goodly portion of the debt: 

“We’ve already incurred these debts. In fact, 27% of the debt that has been created has been created by Donald Trump during his administration. Only 3% under the Biden administration. The money that we spend on the rescue plan, where we propped up businesses, we propped up people who were unemployed, that is all spent. Everyone supported it. We had 44 Republicans who supported that. So on the one hand, they want to support it, but then they don’t want to pay for it? I mean it is just irresponsible.”

She added that “there is going to be blood on their hands … You’re going to see Social Security recipients not receiving their checks, and we’ll point to the Republicans and say that this is the reckless behavior of Republicans who are so irresponsible they won’t even pay for something that they have already voted for.“

Interest rates have gone up with the increased national debt. During the 2020 fiscal year, the $523 billion was higher than all spending on education, employment training, research, and social services. Last October, DDT lied about starting to pay off the national debt before the pandemic and claiming that future economic growth would allow it. Two months later, the GOP Senate passed $900 billion of economic stimulus—financed by debt.

McConnell’s refusal to compromise dropped Dow Jones stocks by 600 points yesterday. A default would go beyond the U.S., damaging the global financial system, especially because international transactions frequently use the U.S. dollar and believe their trillions in Treasury bonds are safe assets. McConnell says he wants to see spending cuts to bring down the deficit. Yet Republicans just blocked funding to catch federal tax cheaters from the new infrastructure bill, although the commissioner of the IRS, Charles Rettig, estimates a loss of $1 trillion a year in unpaid taxes.

More GOP election fraud information has gone public. According to newly discovered court documents, the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) debunked DDT’s false claims of a “stolen election” before his allies such as Rudy Giuliani promoted the lies. DDT’s campaign let them spread although it knew that Dominion and its leadership had no ties to Venezuela and “left wing ‘antifa’ activists.” Also debunked were lies that Dominion used voting technology from rival voting machine Smartmatic with machines also involved in election fraud claims. A few days later, Giuliani and right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell pushed the fraud claims at a televised press conference during the Republican National Committee. Dominion’s security director filed a defamation lawsuit, and his company filed other defamation suits against Giuliani, Powell, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Fox News, Newsmax, One America News Network and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne for spreading the election fraud claims about their voting machines.

In more fraud, conservative attorney John Eastman tried to persuade VP Mike Pence to overturn Electoral College votes on January 6 by rejecting electors from seven states—enough for DDT to stay in the White House. Robert Costa and Bob Woodward’s new book, Peril, explained the scheme. Eastman sent his six-step plan to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Giuliani tried to persuade Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to support DDT’s conspiracy theory of election fraud. The change in seven states would give DDT 232 electoral votes, more than Joe Biden’s 222. Pence could then send the election to the House of Representatives where each state would get one vote, giving DDT the majority with the 26 states where Republicans rule. Both senators refused. 

At a meeting in the Oval Office, DDT urged Pence to listen to Eastman, who DDT called “a respected constitutional scholar.” Eastman said Pence should give no warning for his actions because “the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter.” At that point, Pence asked George H.W. Bush’s vice-president, Dan Quayle, and the Senate Parliamentarian for advice. They both told Pence his only authority was to count the votes. Pence refused to intervene, and DDT attacked Pence on Twitter as the January 6 insurrection was being planned. Eastman spoke at DDT’s January 6 rally leading up to the attack on the Capitol and then retired from his job as Chapman University professor a week later after faculty protests.

DDT hasn’t stopped his attempts to overturn Biden’s election: last week, he wrote Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, telling him he should decertify the 2020 election. Criminal investigators in Georgia are still probing DDT’s earlier efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results. This includes DDT’s call to Raffensperger in early January demanding he find him exactly enough votes to take the state by changing them. Graham is also being investigated for his call to Raffensperger, which Graham claims was only to understand how signatures on mail-in ballots were verified.

June 22, 2021

Voting Filibuster, Round One

Today, to the surprise of no one, GOP senators unanimously blocked any debate on the voting rights reform bill although Democrats unanimously voted in favor of addressing the measure. In the struggle to allow all eligible people have the right to vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and recalcitrant Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) struck a compromise to unify Democrats. Manchin, the only Senate Dem to oppose the House voting bill, created an alternative bill accepted by some Republicans until Georgia’s former Dem gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams endorsed it. GOP senators whirled away from an initial approval, changing their name for the new proposal from Manchin to “Stacey Abrams.” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), opposed to overriding the 60-percent filibuster, had earlier approved of the House bill.

The filibuster has nothing to do with the final passage of the bill; it blocks even debating it on the Senate floor. Manchin’s statement:

“Today I will vote ‘YES’ to move to debate this updated voting legislation as a substitute amendment to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy.”

Manchin does support these provisions:

  • Making Election Day a public holiday;
  • mandating at least 15 consecutive days for early voting in federal election;
  • Banning gerrymandering;
  • Setting up voter registration through state motor vehicle departments;
  • Backing tighter campaign finance requirements, including requiring online and digital ads to disclose their sources, imposing tighter ethics requirements for presidents and vice presidents, and requiring campaigns and committees to report foreign contacts.

He proposes voter ID requirements, but with the alternative such as utility bills for identity, and does not endorse no-excuse absentee voting. West Virginia does not have no-excuse absentee voting, but its rules for excuses are much more lenient than other states that require it. 

Sinema’s excuses for supporting the filibuster are both irrational and untrue. She attributed the filibuster to the Founding Fathers, a common excuse for people attempt to justify the unjustifiable. In 1789, the first U.S. Senate in 1789 adopted rules allowed a simply majority vote to end debate and proceed to a vote with no alternative method of ending debate. Without any rules for terminating debate, Whig senators filibustered in 1837 and another one in 1841. The formal rule was created in 1917 with a two-thirds requirement for cloture because President Woodrow Wilson wanted to arm merchant vessels.

Most of the filibusters during the mid-20th century were from Southern Democrats blocking civil rights legislation. The filibuster changed to 60 percent in 1975 with the election of 61 Democrats and one independent in the Senate, but the number 60 was required no matter how many senators were absent for voting. Oddly enough, a simple majority of senators can change this rule. 

In the 19th century, a filibuster lasted only as long as the filibustering senators talked to the entire Senate. The end of the talking led to debate moving on to a vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed after a 75-hour filibuster, including Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-WV) speech lasting 14 hours and 13 minutes. In only the second time since 1927, a bill went on for a vote.bEven when filibuster use dramatically increased in the 1970s, the Senate had only 413 by 1990. The last 12 years, however, have seen its use almost 600 times—now for preventing any debate. Used to stall business until the next Senate is elected, a filibuster can stop the Senate from addressing any issues on the floor for up to a week. A bill proving medical care for 9/11 responders, supported by a majority of senators, died from filibusters.

Because filibusters tend to come from small GOP states, senators representing as little as 11 percent of the population can block the Senate as a whole from doing business. The 21 smallest states with two GOP Senators, giving that party 42 votes to maintain a filibuster, have 29 percent of the U.S. population. Those 21 states can override the population of 71 percent of the population in the other 29 states. Republicans might want to be more cautious about their constant filibusters: the 21 smallest states with two Democratic senators represent 39 percent of the population, meaning they could block GOP legislation for 61 percent of the population. The result is gridlock because Republicans refuse to compromise.

Sinema’s argument to block the filibusters asserts that any bill passed without it could then be overturned by Republicans in the future. According to that position, no bill should be passed because all of them can be overturned, those dealing with domestic abuse, clean air and water, healthcare, Social Security, gun safety, etc. In short, the Senate would pass nothing because Republicans are always ready to overturn laws that help the population and give people rights. Lasting laws—including Social Security and the Affordable Care Act—have a majority popularity and thus last from one GOP administration to another. Republicans have failed to overturn the ACA for 11 years, Social Security for 86 years.  

In 2021, Manchin protests the loss of the filibuster because he wants to be bipartisan with a party refusing to compromise. In 2011, Manchin just as vigorously opposed the filibuster:

“West Virginians deserve a government that works for them, and they are understandably frustrated with the way things get done—or don’t—in Washington.”

In 2011, Manchin cosponsored Senate Resolution 20 which allowed elimination of the filibuster to block debate and secret holds, permission for both majority and minority leaders to offer up to three relevant amendments on behalf of their members, and the mandate that senators speak on the floor for a filibuster.

Republicans are in a panic about any federal bill allowing voting eligibility: they are all convinced they will lose control if all eligible voters are permitted for participate in selecting their representatives. Their strategy is not to broaden their base but to narrow the pool of voters. The House bill sent to the Senate was written before the 2020 general election, but its results sent the GOP into pure terror.

In their attempt to stop people from voting, 18 states have thus far enacted over 30 anti-voter laws affecting 36 million people, 15 percent of all eligible voters. Laws restrict access to mail voting, create problems for voters’ registration, impose new ID requirements, and expand legal definitions of criminal behavior by voters, election officials, and third parties.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said he was focused “100 percent” on blocking Biden, called a bill to allow voting “craven political calculation.”

The GOP work against democracy reflects the 19th century. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared that “Jim Crow laws came out of democracy,” but they came from selecting government leaders from insurrection and violence. The new laws are trying to revert to the 18th century when women, Blacks, and non-landowners could not participate in selecting their representatives.

Texas AG Ken Paxton openly bragged about restricting voters by saying “Donald Trump would’ve lost the [Texas] election” if he hadn’t blocked mail-in ballots in Harris County, actually unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots. In Texas and other red states, “election integrity” literally means blocking access to the ballot by any means, especially in Democratic-learning and nonwhite areas.

Republicans no longer have any policy: they just demand power and will obtain it by any means.

The bad news for Republicans is they are accidentally suppressing GOP voters. Most of the new laws, for example mandatory IDs and limits on drop-box and early voting hours, could restrict Black voters, but limiting mail balloting may block GOP voting. Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) lies about fraudulent vote-by-mail probably stopped many Republicans from voting, especially because the GOP has an older White population. This demographic has a higher proportion of voters by mail. 

In one bright light of the voting controversy, Vermont expanded voting rights. The state will mail ballots to all registered voters and permit them to “cure” or fix incorrectly submitted or defective ballot. Nevada also expanded mail-in voting to all registered voters.

Satirist Andy Borowitz’s humor column wrote the McConnell complained about the federal voting bill would take the U.S. “to the brink of democracy.”

Borowitz continued:

“Noting that the word ‘democracy’ originated in ancient Greece, [McConnell] vowed, ‘I will not sit idly by and watch a foreign form of government sneak across our border.’ …

“’The people who voted for us did not vote for us so that other people could vote for other people,’ he said.”

Despite obstructionism from Manchin and Sinena, the rest of the Democrats are not quitting on the U.S. people. During the Senate two-week vacation for the Fourth of July, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules Committee, plans a series of field hearings, drawing attention to the GOP anti-voting laws and “the urgent need to pass critical voting, campaign finance, and ethics reforms.” The Georgia event will “hear testimony on the recently enacted legislation to restrict voting in the state.”

June 1, 2021

QAnon Believes in DDT’s Return, Scandals Continue

Michael Flynn, the national security advisor who DDT fired less than a month after his inauguration, told a QAnon conspiracy conference last weekend he wanted a Myanmar-style coup in the United States to put Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) back into the White House. On video, Flynn stated the coup “should happen here” but later claimed, “I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort.” The military coup against the government already killed 800 people. Flynn was convicted after confessing to lying to the FBI, destroying any personal credibility.

Flynn’s false claim is comparable to Washington, D.C. police who stated they didn’t use tear gas to clear peaceful protesters so DDT could walk to the church for his infamous photo-op last June. The police attorney now admits the police used tear gas but described the use as “not unreasonable.”

DDT is telling close associates he will be reinstated in the White House by the end of summer, according to New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman. Sidney Powell, a former lawyer who tried to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election in court, also told the QAnon group that DDT will triumphantly return. She said, “A new inauguration date is set, and Biden is told to move out of the White House.” Powell is being sued for $1.3 billion for her lies about Dominion voting machines and software. Smartmatic is also asking for $2.7 billion in damages for their defamation suit against Powell. Her legal defense argues that “no reasonable person would conclude that the statements [by Powell about the 2020 election] were truly statements of fact.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is another one of the liars at the QAnon conspiracy conference. About DDT’s supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol, Gohmert criticized an independent review of the insurrection and pushed the myth that “it wasn’t just right-wing extremists” rioting despite federal officials saying that left-wing activists weren’t present. Gohmert also said the event trying to overturn a presidential election wasn’t any big deal, that foreign attacks were much worse. Despite Gohmert appearing in a video, one of his staff members said he didn’t go to the conference. Later, Gohmert told a CBS journalist he doesn’t “know who or what QAnon is.” Earlier this year, Gohmert said in an interview that if the 2020 election isn’t overturned, “it will mean the end of our republic, the end of the experiment in self-government.” After his speech, Gohmert posed with known QAnon conspiracy theorist and podcaster RedPill78, who openly admitted to storming the Capitol building on January 6.  

The typical call to execute Hillary Clinton came from Roger Stone’s social media advisor Jason Sullivan. DDT pardoned Stone after his conviction. Sullivan claimed “80 million followers” for QAnon, but a survey found about 30 million.

DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was “very useful to me,” according to Andriy Derkach, the Ukrainian politician and businessman described in the Biden and DDT administration as an “active Russian agent.” Derkach fed Giuliani false information on Biden and his son Hunter Biden, leaked tapes to damage Biden’s presidential campaign, and passed along the conspiracy theory to Giuliani and others that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2020 election to get DDT elected.  

A judge approved the DOJ request to appoint an independent supervisor to review materials obtained from Giuliani’s home with a search warrant last month. The ruling also rejected Giuliani’s challenge to the legality of the recent search warrant and the one two years ago as part of his business dealings with Ukraine.

Sen. Joe Manchin (R-WV), surprised about the filibuster requiring 60 out of 100 votes to permit bills to the Senate floor, is “disappointed” because the Republicans he supports have blocked bipartisan legislation to examine the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.  The filibuster requires 60 votes even if senators don’t show up. Only 54 members voted in favor of a commission with 35 votes against it: 39 percent defeated 64 percent. Only in the Senate is the number 35 larger than the number 54. Not present for the vote were nine Republicans and two Democrats, Patty Murray (WA) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). Manchin said “putting politics and political elections above the health of our Democracy is unconscionable,” but he and Sinema are responsible for keeping the filibuster and blocking democracy. 

Six GOP senators voted to forward the January 6 commission bill for debate: Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), and Ben Sasse (NE). Most Republicans oppose the commission for fear its revelations will hurt their election chances in 2022.

Possible paths for a congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol:

The Senate can try again. After all, the 9/11 independent investigative commission wasn’t formalized for 14 months. House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “I reserve the right to force the Senate to vote on the bill again at the appropriate time.”

House Democrats have started their own probe of the insurrection with a coalition of seven committees; documents requests have been sent to 16 agencies in the federal government.

Democrats could also create a select House committee without GOP support and undertake steps for accountability as Republicans with Benghazi. The GOP followed six separate GOP congressional investigations with a select committee, all failing to find evidence for the GOP far-right conspiracy theories against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A select committee, needing only a House majority, has subpoena power, a dedicated staff, and no firm deadline.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), under investigation for a number of criminal offences including sex-trafficking, explained the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

“The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government, if that becomes necessary.”

Gaetz was speaking specifically about his willingness to silence Big Tech, but his listeners will likely use his words to kill anyone.

DDT’s appointments from before Biden’s administration are still haunting the country. An example is retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, who pushed conspiracy theories about George Soros, talked about Europe welcoming “Muslim invaders,” and encouraged deadly force against undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Before leaving the White House, DDT put Macgregor on a West Point advisory board where he announced Biden’s bringing in non-White immigrants in a “grand plan” for them to outnumber White people of European ancestry in the U.S. He also attacked women’s military service in combat. Cleaning house will take Biden a long time.

Rational people aren’t surprised about revelations of corruption in DDT’s administration such as this one. According to EPA scientists, their officials reapproved Monsanto’s pesticide by revising scientific analyses with no evidence. Officials gave scientists an outline for its impact analysis document that removed vital parts of the original. The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention told scientists to use Monsanto data for reported dicamba damages instead of EPA science data. The senior management decision to use plant height instead of plant injury to measure dicamba’s effects changed scientific conclusions. Other concerns were “numerous inaccuracies” and using studies for controlling weeds on cotton and soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate it instead of crops not engineered to tolerate it which were impacted by its usage. In 2020, dicamba was approved for five years although a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology links dicamba use to cancers. An article for The Hill avoided any mention of Monsanto, but dicamba is a Monsanto product.

When DDT stopped the requirement of payroll taxes to boost the economy during the pandemic, people thought the taxes would be forgiven. The day of reckoning, however, has arrived, and federal employees making under $4,000 per biweekly paycheck owe thousands of dollars because DDT made the delay mandatory. A letter demands payment in full within 30 days before the debt is forwarded to the Treasury offset program for collection. One recipient is incensed about her debt of $1,300. Private sector employers largely refused the payroll tax delay for fear that workers couldn’t pay back the money.

DDT’s lease on his Washington, D.C. hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion is once again for sale. The first time was in Fall 2019 when the hotel was typically half empty. Property revenue fell by 62 percent last year, and Cyrus Vance’s investigation of DDT’s business affairs may include this hotel. DDT supposedly put $200 million into renovations with a $170 million loan from Deutsche Bank; in 2019, he wanted $500 million for the lease and property.

Update: Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill charging social media platforms $250,000 a day after they ban a politician for longer than 14 days, and NetChoice and the Computer and Community Industry Association are suing him and other state officials. The suit declares First Amendment rights of private online businesses. DeSantis’ battle was always about the culture war.

March 29, 2021

Whither the GOP Filibuster

For the first time in four years, more voters, 46 percent, believe the U.S. is on the right track than the opposite. The economy is heading in the right direction, according to the 42-percent plurality of voters, a 13-percent improvement since January. Approval of President Joe Biden is still at 61 percent, and the pandemic management approval is 71 percent, up three points since February, all according to the new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. In January, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) received a 56-percent approval for the economy, his only rating above 50 percent, but Biden now has an approval of 60 percent on the economy and the same percentage for administering the government, compared to DDT’s rating of 49 percent approval.

Conservatives also struggle with the current popularity of For the People Act, the voting bill passing the House and waiting for Senate attention. A policy adviser for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and research director for the Koch-run advocacy group Stand Together, Kyle McKenzie, discovered “people were very supportive” by learning a “very neutral description” of the bill. McKenzie stated:

“The most worrisome part . . . is that conservatives were actually as supportive as the general public was when they read the neutral description. There’s a large, very large, chunk of conservatives who are supportive of these types of efforts.”

Even conservatives don’t want wealthy people buying elections through huge anonymous political donations. Unable to find persuasive arguments against voting rights, McKenzie told conservative activists the GOP senators need to use “under-the-dome” tactics to kill the bill. The bill could pass the Senate with a majority vote, but the current filibuster, enacted by any one senator sending in an email to protest a bill obstructs democracy by requiring 60 percent of the vote.

A simple Senate majority can change—even eliminate—the filibuster, but some Democrats are reluctant to agree. With Republicans determined to be intransigent enough to cause permanent gridlock for the 117th Congress, at least one senator, Angus King (I-ME), may be reversing his negative position toward a shift. In a WaPo op-ed, King wrote that he decided to support the filibuster because an opposing party could use it to erase important legislation as the Affordable Care Act. According to King:

“But this argument is sustainable only if the extraordinary power of the 60-vote threshold is used sparingly on major issues or is used in a good-faith effort to leverage concessions rather than to simply obstruct.”

King cited the voting rights protection to oppose the GOP “nakedly partisan voter-suppression legislation pending in many states” as a reason to fight the filibuster. He continued:

“If forced to choose between a Senate rule and democracy itself, I know where I will come down. As new Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) noted on the floor recently, ‘It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate, while refusing to protect minority rights in the society.’”

Biden now supports the “talking filibuster,” opposition to a bill lasts only as long as the filibustering senator stands on the chamber floor and talks, and said the 60-vote requirement for any bill is “being abused in a gigantic way.” One exception to the filibuster, he said, is for laws “elemental to the functioning of our democracy—like the basic right to vote.” The biggest holdout to changing the filibuster, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) might be willing to move to the talking filibuster.

The Senate has radically changed since Biden defended the filibuster as a new senator. Once rare, filibustering obstructionism is business as usual. The 44 cloture motions filed during the first two years of Biden’s senate career were relatively high for the time, but Republicans almost doubled in 1993-94 to kill Clinton’s agenda. In the 2007-2008 Democratic Congress, McConnell saw 139 filibusters filed, and the number topped 200 in 2013-2014 during President Obama’s second term. The 2019-2020 Congress saw 339 cloture motions in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may have found a way around filibusters to fund Biden’s policy initiatives. The Senate allows budget reconciliation only once a year to permit a majority of senators to pass a bill, and the Democrats used the one time to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus relief law, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Passed in 1974, Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act, however, allows a simple majority to revisit and amend an already-passed budget resolution, such as ARPA. The parliamentarian will decide whether Section 304 permits more reconciliation bills tied to revenue, spending, and the public debt during Fiscal Year 2021, ending the end of September.

McConnell’s first response to doing away with the filibuster—which he did to get three far-right justices on the Supreme Court—was to threaten a “scorched earth” in the Senate, highly punitive actions to block every bill. Then he joined other senators such as Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Graham to play victim. Biden agreed with former President Obama about the filibuster being “a relic of the Jim Crow era”; and McConnell claimed the filibuster “has no racial history at all. None. There’s no dispute among historians about that.” Historians taught McConnell he was wrong.

Both the longest single-speaker filibuster and the longest multiple-speaker filibuster in U.S. history tried unsuccessfully to block two non-discrimination laws, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964. The latter filibuster lasted 60 days before a bipartisan coalition stopped it. The 1957 law, the first federal civil rights legislation in almost 90 years, established a DOJ civil rights division and other measures to support the right to vote for Blacks. Virulent segregationist Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Democrat until 1964, personally filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes, the longest speaking one by a single senator.

Other failures during the past century show the racist and bigoted use of the filibuster:

  • During the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction periods, senators filibustered against civil rights bills.  
  • Bills outlawing racist lynching, first introduced in 1922, didn’t pass until 2018, but the GOP House refused to take action.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 survived a filibuster, but Jesse Helms’ (R-NC) brief filibuster destroyed an extension to strengthen its provisions after a Supreme Court decision required proof of discrimination by covered jurisdictions. Even that weaker provision of the Voting Rights Act disappeared in John Roberts’ court, the 2013 decision permitting rampant racist discrimination by laws sweeping across the U.S.

Newly-elected Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), elected before his state passed a draconian set of anti-voting laws hurting his 2022 re-election chances if not overturned, described nationwide anti-voting laws as “Jim Crow in new clothes.” In his first speech on the Senate floor, he said about the requirement for 60 percent of senators to pass any legislation, “No Senate rule should overrule the integrity of our democracy.” He explained:

“I’m not here to spiral into the procedural argument over whether the filibuster in general has merits or has outlived its usefulness. I’m here to say that this issue is bigger than the filibuster. This issue, access to voting and preempting politicians’ efforts to restrict voting, is so fundamental to our democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a Senate rule, especially one historically used to restrict expansion of voting rights.

“It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in the society. We must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.”

Warnock denounced the 253 voter suppression bills in 43 states introduced since January as “democracy in reverse” and attempts by Republican politicians to “cherrypick their voters.” Warnock declared, “This cannot stand.”

Other losses from the filibuster:

  • A bipartisan piece of popular legislation including gun background checks from Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) after the horrific Newtown massacre.
  • Government shutdowns resulting from huge omnibus bills with multiple “riders” designed to get around filibusters.
  • Bad legislation from the reconciliation process, created by Ronald Reagan in 1981, to use a simple majority for passage.  
  • GOP refusal to undertake any bills alleviating climate change.

Norm Ornstein, a Democratic at a conservative think tank, suggests ways to honor minority rights instead of using the filibuster “as a weapon of mass obstruction.”

“Instead of having 60 votes required to end debate, have 41 required to continue with 41 members… Make the minority have to debate the actual issue. No reading Green Eggs and Ham to waste time.  You’d have to talk about why you are blocking, say, a universal background check bill supported by 94% of Americans.

“…Return to that ‘present and voting’ standard.  So it matters how many Senators actually show up.  If 20 of them don’t show up, you only need 48 votes to end debate. Again, make the minority do the work…

“Reduce the threshold to end debate outright. You could reduce it down to 55 Senators. But you could also be more creative. Former Senator Tom Harken’s idea was to step down the threshold as you debate a bill. So start with a level of 60 votes for a couple of weeks. And then lower the bar to 57, and then 54, and then 51. So ultimately the majority is going to have the ability to act, but there’s plenty of time devoted to the minority.”

The Senate is already rigged for the minority: the 50 Republicans currently in the Senate represent 41 million fewer people than the 50 Democrats. The Senate has been marked for inaction for years. It’s time to legislation to more forward, to do more than Republicans putting highly conservative and frequently inexperienced judges on the federal bench. And it’s time for Republicans to constructively work for elections rather than employing a system to “cancel voters.”

March 17, 2021

GOP Votes Oppose Help for U.S. People

Wednesday, 172 House Republicans voted in favor of domestic violence and opposed a law’s renewal to protect women. The Violence against Women Act, originally passed in 1994 and periodically requiring reauthorization, faces increasing struggles as Republicans oppose funding to protect women from domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. Objections this year came from ensuring accountability for non-tribal offenders on tribal lands and closure of the “boyfriend loophole,” barring stalkers from obtaining firearms. The bill includes housing vouchers to help survivors in federally-assisted housing to quickly relocate if necessary. Another provision permits people to obtain unemployment insurance if they must leave a job for their safety.

With COVID-19 forcing people to stay at home, domestic violence incidents have sharply risen within the past year, and organizations have offered more flexible texting services and housing assistance. One report shows an eight-percent rise in domestic violence, and another study shows an increase of injuries at emergency room patients from this violence.

The bill requires 60 Senate votes to pass because of the watered-down filibuster. Now, one person can announce a filibuster, and no action is taken until 60 percent of senators move it forward.  Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has already said that barring a stalker from owning a gun to menace a domestic partner with a gun is unconstitutional.

The lack of GOP support for women came the day after a young white man killed eight people in Georgia, six of them women of Asian descent. The reason, according to the killer, was an attempt to avoid “temptation” for his “sex addiction.” The killer was having “a bad day,” explained the officer, who has posted racist COVID messages on social media. He said that the alleged killer “was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope.” The young man was apprehended on his way to Florida to kill more women. He said he had frequented massage parlors and killed the people, seven of them women, for “vengeance.”

Organizations studying and tracking hate groups and violence described “male supremacy terrorism,” driven by aggrieved male entitlement and a desire to preserve traditional gender roles. Three years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism began tracking male supremacist ideology, and the Anti-Defamation League published a report called “When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy.” According to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, the ideology’s two core beliefs are that “men are entitled to sexual access to women” and that “feminists are a malevolent force controlling society at the expense of men.” Men have used these beliefs to justify mass shootings at yoga and fitness studios frequented by women, the slaughter of 10 people in Toronto in 2018, and the 2011 shooting deaths of 77 people in Norway by Anders Breivik, who viewed feminism as a significant threat.

As right-wingers, led by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), used racist language to describe the global epidemic, Stop AAPI Hate reported 3,795 hate incidents including name-calling, shunning, and assault in the U.S. against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders during the past year. The number could be much higher because not all incidents are reported. Most were against women, in businesses, and on public sidewalks or streets, the report said. Other events included civil rights violations such as workplace discrimination or refusal of service and online harassment.

Last week, a 75-year-old defenseless Asian man was killed in Oakland’s (CA) Chinatown on his morning walk. A friend had warned him about the danger of being there because Asian people were being attacked. Carl Chan, the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said that seniors were afraid to walk on the streets because of hateful attacks after political statements about the “Chinese virus” or the “kung flu.”

The suspected Georgia killer, who has confessed, was an active member with his parents in the evangelical church Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton (GA). Brett Cottrell, the youth and missions pastor from 2008 to 2017, talked about the killer’s participation “in everything we did.” Crabapple is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and theologically conservative with mostly white members. The group is opposed to “critical race theory, “intersectionality, and the social justice movement in Baptist circles.

In another House bill, passing by 413-12, the 12 self-professed “law and order” Republicans voted against giving the Congressional Gold Medal to the Capitol Police for their bravery on January 6 when insurrectionists stormed the building. According to the bill, the three medals would be displayed at the Capitol Police headquarters, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, and the Smithsonian. Naysayers said they opposed the terrorist attack being called an insurrection. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) lobbied for a bill with no mention of January 6 or the Capitol attack. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) didn’t want the medal to be displayed at the Smithsonian. In February, the Senate voted to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for putting himself in harm’s way to protect lawmakers and staff during the assault on Congress.

First, Republicans tried to block the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by unanimously voting against it. Almost three-fourths of people approved of ARPA, including 59 percent of Republicans, so those voting no tried to take credit for it. Now both President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris, and their spouses, Dr. Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, are crossing the U.S. to talk about the benefits while the IRS has already sent out 90 million relief checks of $1,400 each. Republicans and the media criticize Biden for not spending enough time talking with the media, but he has historically talked to both small and large groups of people.  

Republicans hoped voters would turn against the law; now they are concerned Biden will move forward with more approval of his agenda. The real GOP concern is the 2022 election, a little more than a year away.

The RNC struggles with refuting ARPA after supporting deficit-spending such as massive cuts for the wealthy and businesses plus giving hundreds of billions of dollars to large businesses in a bill supposedly to save people from the economic pain of COVID-19. Earlier this year, they were overwhelmed by the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and DDT’s impeachment for inciting violence.

People like ARPA because it benefits the middle class over wealthy people, helps with vaccinations, and supports the opening of schools. The GOP can only wish people will forget ARPA’s benefits before the election; Democrats are intent on that forgetfulness not happening. When Republicans try to take credit for ARPA benefits, Democrats say, “You voted against it.” Republicans are working on publicity about the immigrants at the southern border, but the issue has no connection to the relief bill.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin benefited Biden’s bill by stashing away “well over $1 trillion” at the end of DDT’s presidential term when he assumed the former White House would pass a sizeable relief bill. Almost 100 million people got their $1,400 checks within two days of ARPA’s signing instead of waiting two weeks as they did with DDT because he wanted his name on the check.

Even the House chaplain supported U.S. people in distress from DDT’s mismanagement of the pandemic. In a prayer, Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben asked God to forgive Republicans:

“For when called upon to respond to a once-in-a-century pandemic that has rocked our country, upended its economy and widened the chasm of partisan opinion, they have missed the opportunity to step above the fray and unite to attend to this national crisis…

“In failing to address the acrimony and divisions which have prevailed in this room, the servants you have called to lead this country have contributed to the spread of an even more insidious contagion of bitterness and spite.”

Her reference to the New Testament’s letter to the Colossians argued that “rather than employing the preventive measures of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” lawmakers have set that “armor” aside “in favor of argument, disparaging words and divisiveness.” In recalling the Gospel of Mark’s third chapter of “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” she said Congress stands “in need of healing and reconciliation.”

Kibben concluded:

“Merciful Lord, rebuild this House, that their labor will not be in vain.”

ARPA will stay in the news if Ohio GOP AG David Yost continues his lawsuit against the Biden administration. He claims the prohibition of this federal money to states and municipalities to offset new tax cuts is unconstitutional. Ohio receives $11.2 billion, but GOP Gov. Mike DeWine ordered $390 million in new spending cuts among state agencies. Leaders of 21 other red states wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that the provision “would represent the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic.” A White House official pointed out states aren’t blocked from tax cuts: they just need to replace the revenue without using stimulus funds.

Not all Republicans are stupid about ARPA money. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) told the state’s Gov. Ron DeSantis to refuse all the money to the state. DeSantis has already made plans for spending his $10 billion.

March 7, 2021

COVID Relief Bill Passes Senate

Business in Congress is suddenly booming. While the GOP was in charge, most bills reaching the floor renamed buildings. In the two months since Congress went into session, the House passed at least 70 bills and resolutions. The Senate passed nine bills and resolutions, carried out an impeachment trial, and confirmed 13 Cabinet and Cabinet-level appointments. They also took a week’s vacation before President Joe Biden’s inauguration and worked to restructure the Senate after two elected Democratic senators in Georgia created a 50-50 split in the chamber.

Remarkably, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, called the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, passed the Senate despite obstruction from Republicans and, occasionally, a few Democrats. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), trying to decide whether to run for re-election in 2022, tried to get GOP support. Known for his purveying Russian propaganda disinformation, especially while chair of the chamber’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he forced the entire 628-page bill to be read aloud before debate.  

Passed by Democrats in the House, the modified bill lost the hourly $15 minimum wage before a unanimous vote by the 50 Democratic senators. With Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) absent, the remaining 49 Republicans lost the vote without VP Kamala Harris needing to break a tie. The bill returns to the House for a vote on the minor changes before it goes to Biden for a signature. He promised the bill would be passed before March 14 when the federal portion of the unemployment expires, and he may have succeeded. The increase of 379,000 new jobs last month—Biden’s first complete month on the job—may partly come from an optimism about the bill’s passage, but the U.S. has 9.5 million more unemployed workers than before the attack of COVID-19 who need the bill.

Unemployment benefits caused dissension among Democrats when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) threatened for nine hours to join GOP senators in lessening the bill’s weekly benefits. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) told Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), “The party that claims to want to help workers on their taxes won’t lift a finger.” Earlier in the year, House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had tried to paint Democrats as “anti-worker.” Then Democrats destroyed dozens of GOP amendments to drastically cut spending and assistance for local government. Republicans didn’t plan to vote for the bill; they only wanted to stall the process as they did over a decade ago with the Affordable Care Act. They also accused Democrats of not wanting unity, but the Dems declared unity with the 76 percent of people, including 60 percent of Republicans, who want the bill.  

Johnson’s ploy backfired at the end of staff members’ reading the bill until 2:00 am on Friday morning. The few Democrats still present passed Sen. Chris van Hollen’s (D-MD) motion to cut the debate time from 20 hours to only three; no Republicans were present to object, and votes on the amendments began Friday morning instead of 17 hours later.

Most Senate bills require 60 votes if someone calls for the filibuster, but Senate rules allow one bill each year under reconciliation for each of three categories: spending, revenue, and the federal debt limit. ARPA was passed under this rule. The filibuster requirement for the remainder of bills, mandating 60 instead of 50 votes, has been so watered down that senators use it for almost all bills. The Founding Fathers were opposed to more than a majority required to pass a bill, but the filibuster, or cloture, was formed with a Senate vote over a century ago when Woodrow Wilson wanted to arm merchant vessels in 1917. For decades, filibustering senators had to continue speaking on the Senate floor to stall bills: then-Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-SC) set the record with 24 hours and 28 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 although the bill finally passed. By 1975, the filibuster rule was almost completely diluted: no 60 percent vote to agree on a filibuster, no talking on the Senate floor, almost no effort.

By the 21st century, one person can continue a filibuster without even being present until 60 senators vote against the filibuster. That’s the reason the number of annual filibusters has gone from about one to hundreds per year.

Contents of the bill:  

  • $1,400 checks per person for individuals making under $75,000 and couples under $150,000.
  • Federal unemployment benefits until September 6 at $300 per week with the first $10,200 of benefits for households earning under $150,000.
  • Extension of a 15 percent increase in food stamp benefits from June to September.
  • Rent aid for low-income households.
  • Increase in federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies.
  • Provision of $8.5 billion for rural hospitals and health care providers in financial trouble.
  • Child tax credit of $3,000 for each child ages 6-17 and $3,600 for each child under age 6.
  • Designation of $350 billion for states, cities, tribal governments, and U.S. territories.
  • Tens of billions of dollars for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution and supply chains.
  • $130 billion for reopening schools.

Added provisions to the House bill:

  • $510 million for the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program to support homeless services providers for overnight shelter, meals, one month’s rent and mortgage assistance, and one month’s utility payments.
  • Expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit for start-up companies and other businesses hit by the pandemic.
  • Increase in the federal COBRA health insurance program from 85 percent to 100 percent.
  • A $10 billion infrastructure program to help local governments continue crucial capital projects.
  • Coronavirus-related student loans tax-free.
  • Increase of $200 million for Amtrak relief funding.
  • Education funding of $1.25 billion for summer enrichment, $1.25 billion for after-school programs, and $3 billion for education technology

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) quickly corrected Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) complaining lies about undocumented immigrants receiving money from ARPA. Refusing to yield the floor back to Cruz, Durbin said:

“The statement of the senator from Texas is just plain false… In case you didn’t notice, they didn’t qualify in December when 92 of us voted for that measure, and they don’t qualify under the American Rescue Plan. Nothing has changed, and for you to stand up there and say the opposite is just to rile people up over something that’s not true.”

 Debunking other false claims:

Nothing for schools: As can be seen above, hundreds of billions of dollars are being sent to schools, helping them take CDC steps to safely return youth to schools. The amount is six times what Republicans offered in their version of a bill.

Only 9 percent for health care: The largest parts focus on the pandemic’s economic impact, related to health. At least seven percent is directly related to coronavirus and might be closer to ten percent, depending on the GOP definition of “the health care space,” including the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Items such as free lunches for students no physically in school are connected to the COVID crisis. Stimulus checks, government assistance, and unemployment benefits are necessary because of the pandemic. The $140 million originally designated the BART extension, outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) district, brought bitter complaints, but that sum, 0.0007 of the bill’s amount, has been deleted. Only $30 million for transportation for systems suffering from fee revenue, remains. Airlines alone received $25 from Republicans in the CARES act.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) drew attention to herself with two graceless gestures during the vote for ARPA. One of eight Democrats voting against the hourly minimum wage of $15, she made a dramatic thumbs-down movement similar to that of former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when he voted against killing the Affordable Care Act. The difference was clear: Sinema voted against low-income people, and McCain supported them. Seven years ago, she tweeted:

“A full-time minimum-wage earner makes less than $16k a year. This one’s a no-brainer. Tell Congress to #RaiseTheWage!”

Sinema’s other action accompanying her rejection of raising the minimum wage brought up the supercilious remark “Let them eat cake” about 17th and 18th century European peasants living in poverty who had no bread about European peasants living in poverty. She brought a large chocolate cake into the Senate chamber supposedly for staffers forced to read the entire ARPA. The connection between the cake and her thumbs-down for the poor made poor optics for her. Sinema also wants to preserve the filibuster to keep Republicans in control. As an Arizona paper wrote, “Sinema is holding progress hostage.” Sinema complained that criticism about her flamboyant gesture was sexist.  

For the past two years, the Democratic House passed hundreds of important bills and sent them to the boneyard of the GOP Senate. People knew Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate majority leader for those two years, would ignore the bills, which he knew would expire when a new Congress was sworn in. One advantage of having those bills from the 116th Congress, however, is that the 117th Congress can re-pass them much more quickly. Under the “McGovern rule,” bills brought to the House floor by April 1 can skip over markups if the previous Congress passed them. Two major results of this “rule” are H.R. 1 to return democracy to voting through government and elections reform by 220 to 210 and and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with a vote of 220 to 212. Although both bills have moved on to the Senate, the filibuster may hurt their progress.

The daily cases of COVID-19 and resulting deaths in the U.S. are dropping—58,228 infections and 1,515 deaths yesterday—but the number per capita for cases is above other industrialized nations for cases and still eleventh for deaths.

April 6, 2017

GOP Senators ‘Break’ an Institution

The Republicans loved the filibuster. They used it to create an unprecedented blockade of President Obama’s nominees for judge and executive branch positions, leaving key positions unfilled. But that was four years ago with a Democratic president. Today, GOP Senators voted to get rid of the filibuster for the Supreme Court so that lying plagiarist 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch could be confirmed as a life-time justice. No longer does a permanent member of the Supreme Court need at least 60 bona fide votes to make law for the United States. Fifty-one votes are just fine, according to Republicans.

The decision to erase the filibuster for the Supreme Court was made less than a year since the Republicans, the majority of the 115th Congress, refused to even give a hearing to President Obama’s justice nominee, Merrick Garland. [The above cartoon is thanks to Robert Hulshof-Schmidt, husband of blogger Michael Hulshof-Schmidt.] In the past, Republicans maintained that a rule change, such as doing away with the filibuster for judges, requires a two-thirds super-majority, and that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decided to “break the rules to change the rules.” Over 60 percent of these senators who made these protests are still in the 115th Congress. The comments below from their opposition four years ago show that rules are in the eye of the beholder—in this case Republicans.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) used an example of a football game to whine that the Democratic majority just changes the rules if they don’t allow the result that they want.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) claimed that ditching the filibuster would be “irreparably damaging the Senate.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) called the change four years ago a “power grab” that allows Democrats “to make decisions all on their own about every federal judge.” [Change Democrats to Republicans to show that the GOP senators did today.]

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) described the “Senate Majority” change as “an act of desperation.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) cited the removal of the filibuster as “unchecked power by the Executive Branch” and accused the removal of the filibuster as a “way to pack the courts with judges who agree with them” with “lasting damage to bipartisanship, the Senate, and the nation.”

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) complained about “embarking on a path that would circumvent the rights of the minority to exercise its advice and consent responsibilities provided in the Constitution.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) talked about her opposition to the 2005 GOP plan in erasing the filibuster, giving the majority part “unprecedented power to limit debate and block Senators from offering amendments” and opposed the Democrats taking the same action with a Democratic majority.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) described the change four years ago as “brute, raw force.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) referred to the change four years ago as “breaking the rules of the Senate in a raw exercise of partisan political power.”

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) said that the change would “break the rules to change the rules and force through a number of executive nominations” and demanded 67 votes to change the rule

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) talked about how losing the filibuster “damaged the Senate” with “President Obama’s lawless disregard of our statutes and Constitution.”

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) claimed that weakening the filibuster will “weaken the Senate itself,” making it “more susceptible to the demands of a smaller majority.” He also called the action “incredibly short-sighted,” which could be very true in 2017.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) said that destroying the filibuster would “destroy the very character of the [Senate] by citing a story from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to design the Senate  “as a deliberative body to produce thoughtful policy. The solution to Senate gridlock is not changing the rules.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) called the earlier change “a sad day in the Senate when Democrats are willing to ignore 225 years of precedent.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reiterated the term “raw power grab” that “washed away” the “advise and consent clause” for executive and judicial branch nominations. [Actually, Republicans buried that clause last year by refusing to consider Garland.]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) also repeated the “naked power grab” and asked why this moment was chosen “to hand the keys to the kingdom over to the President, a President with less check on his authority.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) lamented the “pre-scripted parliamentary hit-and-run, over in a flash and leaving Senate tradition and practice behind like so much confirmation roadkill.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) asked whether this decision would “apply to future legislation.” [McConnell claims it won’t, but he is unreliable in the truth sector.] Heller expressed his concern about protecting his state from a majority decision to move nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. He should remain concerned.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) wanted to take a measured approach because “to break the rules means you have no rules.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) commented that overturning the filibuster “made the Senate’s constitutional role to advise and consent on nominations merely ceremonial.”

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) declared that the result would be “a runaway Senate” much like “a runaway House” and “that’s not good for the country.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) decried that “the rules are being changed in the middle of the game” in “a partisan political grab.” Republicans are specialists in doing this.

Mike Lee (R-UT) said that changing the filibuster “serves no other purpose than to stymie the rights of the American people to have their voices heard.”

Sen John McCain (R-AZ) declaimed:

“I feel this is a dark day for the Senate. I don’t know how we can get out of it. It is the biggest rules change — certainly since I have been in the Senate, maybe my lifetime, and maybe in the history of the Senate — where it has changed by a simple majority by overruling the Chair…. Senator Reid says: I appeal the ruling of the Chair. I ask my colleagues in the Senate to overrule the rules of the Senate, by a simple majority vote, to overrule the Parliamentarian and the Presiding Officer of the Senate. This is what happened. When our rules say to change the rules of the Senate, it takes a two-thirds vote.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that without the filibuster that “advice and consent” means “nothing.”

Jerry Moran (R-KS) complained about breaking Senate rules.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was “saddened” more than angered because the “change will fundamentally alter our operations and lead us to being a less tempered body.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called the action bullying and breaking the rules and hundreds of years of precedent, “causing ore discord and disharmony.”

Jim Risch (R-ID) predicted that “the rule changes will have far ranging implications for the United States Senate and our democracy. “

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) claimed that “our rules have always ensured a voice for the minority in this body” and “cannot be changed without their consent — unless, of course, the majority decides it wants to break the rules to change the rules.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said that the change will “carry implications.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said, “If Democrats think that they deserve more power, they should earn it from voters at the polls in 2014, not swipe it with a drastic rule change in the Senate today.”

Sen.  John Thune (R-SD) also complained about breaking the rules of the Senate.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) described the change as “raw abuse of power” and “purely partisan efforts” that tarnished the integrity of the institution by ignoring 225 years of precedent and trampling the rights of the minority party and the millions of Americans we represent.”

In addition, a former senator called the change a “sad day” when the majority caused “the greatest alteration of the rules without proper procedure that we have probably seen in the history of the Republic.” That former senator is now Donald Trump’s Attorney General.

By removing the filibuster for Supreme Court justices, the Senate has encouraged presidents to pick ideologically extreme nominees, further politicizing the highest court in the nation. For many people, the Senate decision may be a blip on the disastrous media coming from the new rule of Dictator Donald Trump, including possible war with North Korea and Syria, but 55 Senators have voted to allow an unethical judge to make decisions for everyone in the United States for a possible up-coming 40 years. According to their own words, the Republicans have “broken” the Senate.

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