Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Is The Senate Broken?

Steve Benen knows:

As much as I'm sympathetic to the vice president's entirely accurate concerns [in regards to his statement: "I don't ever recall a time in my career where to get anything done, you needed a supermajority, 60 out of 100 senators.... I've never seen it this dysfunctional."], his omissions make all the difference. For viewers who don't know what filibusters or cloture votes are, they're thinking, "There's a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress. If the system is broken and dysfunctional, maybe it's Democrats' fault."
Except, for anyone interested in reality, that assumption couldn't be more wrong. If legislation received up-or-down votes in both chambers -- the way Congress operated for the better part of two centuries -- the system would work quite well and the dysfunction that drives everyone crazy would largely disappear.
Biden, in other words, needs to name names -- Republicans broke the American legislative process. They did so deliberately, during a time of crises, because they're desperate to undercut the Democratic majority, regardless of the consequences. The GOP's tactics have no precedent in American history, and violate every democratic norm that keeps our system moving.

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