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John F. Kennedy Liberal Democrat

John F. Kennedy Liberal Democrat
Source: U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Roll Call: Congress: Tamar Hallerman & Niels Lesniewski: Senate Democrats Show Limits of GOP Control

Roll Call: Congress: Tamar Hallerman & Niels Lesniewski: Senate Democrats Show Limits of GOP Control

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

For all of you non-political junkies, first of all I’m wondering why you’re reading this at all, but secondly this piece is for the average political junkie who probably does at least look at C-SPAN everyday. So you might be better off watching Fashion Police, Project Runway or Access Hollywood or something to find out which latest hot celebrity is in trouble or whatever. Because this piece is about the U.S. Congress which is by far other than the presidency itself the most interesting part and important part of government anywhere else in the world.

First of all I think the Senate Democratic Leadership made a policy mistake by using the cloture rule to block any consideration of the House Republican passed Homeland Security funding bill that defunds President Obama’s immigration order. What the House Republicans did was stupid and is why we are we are with Homeland Security employees wondering if they are going to get paid next week. But at least allow that bill come to the floor to be debated and try to amend the bill and strict that portion of the bill out with the amendment process. That Leader McConnell has put back in. If that amendment passes now you have what you wanted in the first place which was clean funding bill. If the amendment fails then you can still block the bill from final passage.

Now politically what Senate Democrats are doing is working very well for them. Congressional Republicans are still getting blamed for the new-made up crisis by House Republicans and with Senate Republicans unable or unwilling to bring up a clean funding bill for Homeland Security. But the good guys (meaning Senate Democrats) still have an opportunity to save the day at the end of the day. By telling Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell that if they give Senate Democrats a clean funding bill and bring it up for final passage and it passes, Senate Democrats wouldn’t block consideration of a repeal of President Obama’s immigration order, but as part of separate legislation. Pass Homeland Security and then debate and work on a bill to repeal the immigration order and pass immigration reform after Homeland Security is funded.

I know this as a Democrat that when Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 after being in the minority in the House for twelve years and the Senate for four years, that just because you control both chambers of Congress, doesn’t mean you get your way all the time. The House can pass anything they want to on their own with just the majority party if they are united. The Senate is a place where minority rights is real and where the Minority Leader is almost as powerful as the Majority Leader. They almost have to work together to get anything done. Congressional Republicans need to learn that quickly, because 2015 will be the only year they’ll have in this Congress to pass major legislation. And find ways to work with Congressional Democrats especially in the Senate to pass the legislation that they have to. Like appropriations and later on hopefully a budget.