Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nice try, Harry--now de-fund the damn war !

The strategy of the Senate Republican since the start of the 110th Congress has been to use parliamentary procedures to stop virtually all legislation from passing, even bills that they support. They use the threat of filibuster to stop any legislation from coming to a simple yes or no majority vote, and since the Democrats cannot muster the 60 votes necessary under Senate rules to pass cloture (stop the filibuster), nothing gets passed. The Republicans do this for (im)purely partisan political reasons. They want the American people to get the perception that the Democrats are weak and can't get anything done. So far it's working just as they planned, as the polls show Congress with an approval rating even lower than the President's. The Republican obtructionism has stopped almost all legislation from moving forward, including the Defense Authorization Bill for 2008.

The Defense Authorization Bill provides funds for the entire military budget, including for the first time, funding for the Iraq occupation (war?), which had previously, when the Senate was under a Republican majority, been funded through emergency supplemental bills separate from the rest of military funding.

Both parties have been jockeying for political position, with the Democrats trying(vainly) to pass amendments to force a troop withdrawal (i.e. the Levin-Reed Amendment), and the Republicans offering up totally toothless amendments of their own while stopping any Democratic amendments through the threat of filibuster.

Well, Majority Leader Harry Reid has had enough of the Republican tactics, and when they threatened to filibuster Levin-Reed he called them on it and ordered an all-night debate on the amendment, which concluded this morning. The cloture motion failed on a 52-47 vote. The Republicans will not allow a simple majority vote on troop withdrawal. The Republicans, voting as a nearly solid bloc to support the President's insane Iraq policies, have won another round. Or have they?

After cloture failed, Reid pulled the entire Defense Authorization Bill from the Senate floor, indicating that it would not be re-introduced until the Senate is prepared to offer a future course in Iraq. Here is some of what he said:

[...]"Because Republicans continue to block votes on important amendments to the Defense Authorization bill, we can make no further progress on Iraq and this bill at this time.
For these reasons, I have temporarily laid aside the Defense Authorization bill and have entered a motion to reconsider.
But let me be clear to my Republican colleagues — I emphasize the word “temporarily”. We will do everything in our power to change course in Iraq. We will do everything in our power to complete consideration of a Defense Authorization bill. We must do both.
And just to remind my Republican colleagues — even if this bill had passed yesterday, its provisions would not take effect until October.
So we will come back to this bill as soon as it is clear we can make real progress. To that end, I have asked the Democratic Whip and Democratic Manager of the bill to sit down with their counterparts to work on a process to address all outstanding issues related to this bill so the Senate can return to it as soon as possible."[...]

Smart move, Harry-take the bill down until the Republicans come to their senses-but you really don't have to do that at all. You have other avenues you can take to achieve your goals.

One way is the so-called nuclear option, which is to eliminate the filibuster as a parliamentary tool so that every vote comes to the floor and passes or fails on a majority vote. The Republicans threatened to do this when the nomination of Sam Alito forJustice of The Supreme Court was coming up for a vote, and the Democrats were suckered into not filibustering his nomination (the fruits of which will rot for years, but that's another subject). This can work, but will not achieve what the American people want. There is no advantage in passing weak, half-assed legislation that drags out the waste of lives currently going on for no good reason.

Another way is to simply exercise the power of the purse. The Senate has to fund literally everything the Government spends. This is not rocket science--DE-FUND THE WAR. IT IS WITHIN YOUR POWER. Separate the Iraq funding from the rest of the bill, pass that so the military can do their day-to-day, but split out the Iraq funding and DO NOT OFFER ANY LEGISLATION TO PAY FOR IRAQ. Easy, huh? Doing nothing wins! AND, OUR FREAKIN' PRESIDENT CAN'T VETO A BILL HE DOESN'T HAVE.

Let the Republicans piss and moan. Let the President piss and moan. Instead of all the ridiculous posturing and blather from both sides about "supporting the troops", "support the President", "fighting terrorists","six more months", and the best one "protecting our assets", stop the madness!

Not only will we save countless lives (and don't they matter?) and countless billions of dollars, the Senate, led by strong Democratic action, will FINALLY get in line with the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who are desperate for the U.S. occuption of Iraq to end NOW.



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