Mitch McConnell filibusters against his own proposal
This is getting weird. Andrew Rosenthal describes in the NY Times the latest GOP idiocy:
Does the United States Senate actually serve any purpose these days beyond providing material for Jon Stewart? Apparently not under Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader.
You may recall that after the election of the nation’s first African-American chief executive and commander in chief Mr. McConnell made it clear he planned to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
Obviously he failed at that, but he did turn the Senate into a mockery of a legislative body by using parliamentary rules written when Senators wore powdered wigs and brocaded coats. (At least they dressed better than the current ones.) Mr. McConnell and his Republican colleagues filibustered pretty much anything President Obama wanted, especially if it had to do with promoting economic recovery, making taxes fairer and putting the middle class back to work.
Virtually every matter, no matter how routine, requires 60 votes in the Senate, enough to overcome not just a filibuster or actually these days the mere threat of one.
Yesterday, Mr. McConnell filibustered his own bill.
Here’s how it happened: In the morning, Mr. McConnell went to Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, and asked him to take a vote on a bill that would allow the president to raise the debt ceiling. That’s the artificial limit imposed by Congress on how much money the government may borrow to make good on past debt. (Please note here: “imposed by Congress” and “past debt.”)
Mr. McConnell’s clever plan was that the Democrats would not be able to muster a regular majority to pass the bill, thus proving to the world (or at least the 18 people who still have the patience to pay attention to Congress) that the Democrats don’t really want to end the pointless fight over the debt ceiling Mr. McConnell cooked up in 2011.
But Mr. Reid consulted with his caucus and found support for the bill, so he went to the floor, offered it and scheduled 20 minutes of debate before an up or down vote.
And that’s when Mr. McConnell may have made Senate history. He rose in objection to his own bill. “Matters of this level of controversy always require 60 votes,” he said. Using the Senate’s phony politesse, he added that he wanted “my friend, the majority leader, to make it 60 votes.”
Mr. Reid said no. “The republican leader objects to his own idea,” he said. “We have a filibuster of his own bill.”
Senator Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who is the Majority Whip, was incredulous. “This may be a moment in Senate history, when a Senator made a proposal and when giving an opportunity for a vote on that proposal, filibustered his own proposal,” he said.
In a classic understatement, he added: “It really calls into question whether or not this was the kind of offer that would be considered to be good faith.” . . .