House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) is pushing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to take a harder line with the Senate after a trio of Republican senators forced Congress to trim billions from the $787 billion economic stimulus package.
It’s not clear how far Pelosi is willing to go in standing up to the Senate — or, realistically, what effect Hoyer and Pelosi combined could have in the face of the 60-vote hurdle Senate Democrats face.
But after last week’s stimulus votes, Hoyer called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to force Senate Republicans to mount actual filibusters if they want to stand in the way of bills "so that the American people can see who’s undermining action."
I never figured this out when George W. Bush was in office - why Democrats wouldn't pass things with 55 or so votes, and then force Bush to live up to his veto threats. If this happened as much as it could and should have, then the tired meme that the GOP used (to little success, it's worth pointing out) to say that the Democrats did nothing while in power of Congress would have been even more obviously a falsehood.
The flip side is that now, with just shy of a 'filibuster-proof' majority, the Democrats don't force that hand as well. They don't NEED 60 votes to pass a bill, they need the usual 51. If the Republicans want to actually go through with a filibuster, then let them. They won't do it for everything - they can't, even if they wanted to. They'd fairly be accused of shutting down Congress and the public would find them even more toxic than they already do.
Look, these are the rules. Threats of doing something are only useful when you make sure the threats aren't in vain. If the GOP wants to stand around reading an encyclopedia, let C-SPAN capture it all and have Democratic Congressmen and women all over the airwaves pointing out what is going on.
Because if the GOP isn't willing to do that, then they need to lean back out of the way.
On the flip side, their current strategy baffles me. They've convinced the media that this administration was fouling up and making missteps -- but the public disagrees. Obama remains incredibly popular and a solid majority of voters are happy that the stimulus package passed. And three total Republicans dared put their name on the bill. Which, by the way, provided the largest tax cut in history. (Tax cuts the Republicans insisted on.)
Just to be clear, not a single House Republican voted for the largest tax cut in history. Perhaps it was because unlike the scores of tax cuts they voted for in the last eight years, these cuts didn't primarily go to corporations and the wealthy. Yeah, that will look good in their re-election campaigns.
If there's a strategy here, I'm not seeing that far down the page.