Tag Archives: filibusters
The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday evening on a cloture motion to stop the Republican filibuster of H.R. 4660, (Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 ) and the cloture motion was agreed to on a 95-3 vote. The three Republicans voting to sustain the filibuster? Paul (R-KY), Lee (R-UT), and Nevada’s own Dean Heller (R-NV). [roll call 200]
And, why might he have done this? Perhaps we have the answer in the following statement posted to Senator Heller’s web site:
“U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has filed “No Budget, No Pay” as an amendment to the CJS Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4660). The Heller No Budget, No Pay Amendment calls on Congress to adopt legislation requiring passage of a yearly budget and all twelve appropriations bills each fiscal year in order to receive pay.”
This particular hobby horse is a favorite toy for the Senator. However, proposal comes with a bit of a problem for the Constitution First Crowd — it’s unconstitutional. See the 27th Amendment: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” And, while the proposition has a lovely tinkly sound for fiscal conservatives it is no more grounded in reality than Tinker Bell.
In an article speaking for the ethereal proposal, former Comptroller General David Walker inadvertently included the core of the problem for the No Labels folk: “Congress has only passed spending bills on time four times since 1952. The last time Congress passed both a concurrent budget resolution and all required spending bills on time was 1996.” [Politico] And, there’s another historical problem:
“In four of the last five election years in which the Republicans held at least partial control of Congress (1998, 2002, 2004 and 2006), they didn’t pass a budget resolution. That includes three years in which Republicans controlled both chambers.” [WaPo 2012]
There’s some irony in a Republican proposal to “solve” a problem created by … Republicans. What might we call an unconstitutional, ahistorical, and flimsy proposal which is full of “sound and fury signifying nothing?” The usual label is Grandstanding.
The idea has a lovely ring on the hustings, makes for great sound bite fodder, but as evidenced by the underwhelming support received by Senator Heller during vote #200, it has about Zilch chance of passage.
** Remember when Governor Sandoval vetoed SB 221, the bill which would have expanded background checks to private gun sales to insure that individuals who were felons, fugitives, undocumented aliens, juveniles without parental supervision, those restrained by a court from possessing firearms because of spousal abuse and domestic violence, and seriously mentally ill individuals could not obtain guns? The Governor claimed the bill was “too broad,” but now we have a very specific example of precisely the kind of activity the proposed law was designed to prevent — a seriously mentally ill individual purchased a gun from a Reno police officer, and Nevada Progressive has a good summation of the situation.
For background information see: “RGJ Exclusive: Mentally ill man who bought gun from Reno cop was prohibited from having a gun” Reno Gazette Journal, July 16, 2013. “Gun issue smolders in Nevada political landscape,” Ray Hagar, Reno Gazette Journal, July 17, 2013.
** The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus would like to remind Senator Dean Heller (R-Big and Bigger Banks) that it is often a good thing to read laws one is complaining about, and to refresh one’s memory about how the Congress of the United States of America functions prior to launching aggrieved letters to the Executive Branch. See: “Heller Has No Clue How Congress Works and He Apparently Can’t Read Either,” at the NRDC site. Senator Heller’s latest nod to the Tea Party in regard to the Affordable Care Act substantiates the NRDC’s headline.
** Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) got tired of the GOP obstructionism in the Senate and played the anti-filibuster card. Why? As Sebelius explains:
“Not a single cabinet secretary nominee was filibustered in President [Jimmy] Carter’s administration. Not a single cabinet secretary nominee was filibustered in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Only one cabinet secretary was filibustered in President [Ronald] Reagan’s administration. And only one cabinet secretary was filibustered in President George W. Bush‘s administration. But already in President Obama’s administration, 4 cabinet secretaries have been filibustered, and more filibusters are likely. Yet the Republican Leader says there is no problem here. The status quo is fine.”
And then came The Deal, as explained by the Washington Post:
“The clear winner from the ugly debate was the president, who will have a full slate of his nominees confirmed and will settle the messy staffing issue at the CFPB and the NLRB. Those agencies are the subject of a legal battle that will reach the Supreme Court over Obama’s method of making an end run around Senate confirmation to install interim appointees, threatening to undermine more than 1,000 rulings issued by the labor board in the past 18 months.”
In this instance it appears as though Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t quite as “necessary” as he thought he might have been? E.J. Dionne, Jr. offers more analysis in his column. And, Bingo!, we have Thomas Perez confirmed as the new Secretary of Labor.
** Speaking of undermining the system. The Republican controlled House of Representatives, which just can’t seem to help itself from repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, has voted to delay the individual mandate section of the law — an action which will die in the Senate, and would meet a veto from the White House — The latest exercise in futility passed 264 to 121, with Nevada Representatives Heck (R-NV3) and Amodei (R-NV2) voting in favor of the bill; Representative Titus (D-NV1) voted no.
Perhaps those voting in the affirmative, such as Reps. Heck and Amodei, didn’t take the time to read the latest reports concerning the implementation of the ACA and Patients Bill of Rights — especially the one which reports that health care insurance premiums are projected to drop by 50% in New York, or the release this morning from HHS:
“The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is set to release a report on Thursday morning that analyzes the 2014 premiums in the Obamacare insurance marketplaces in 11 different states, including Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, and Oregon. Officials said that the data will show that the weighted average of the least expensive mid-level health plans in those states’ marketplaces are 18 percent lower than what the CBO thought they would be when the law first passed.” [TP] (emphasis added)
In essence, since insurance companies are factoring in the increased demand for their products under the individual mandate — what Representatives Heck and Amodei just voted to do is Increase the Cost of Health Insurance Premiums?
** You can’t make this stuff up.
ALEC’s Back — this time with bills crafted for state consumption which would privatize the nation’s educational systems, state by state. There are 139 bills awaiting passage in 43 states and D.C., but before we jump on the ALEC “reform” bandwagon, it’s advisable to read “Cashing In On Kids.” There were three bills in the last session of the Nevada legislature related to the ALEC campaign to cash in on kids: AB 254 was the ALEC sponsored “Parent Trigger Bill,” and SB 314, the ALEC supported “Parental Rights Amendment.” SB 407 was the “Great Teachers and Leaders Act.” AB 254 was sponsored by: Hansen, Hickey, Hambrick, Fiore, Hardy, Kirner, Livermore, Wheeler, Gustavson — no surprises there?
Beautiful Downtown Deer Trail, CO is pondering whether to offer a bounty to those who shoot down drones. For $25 dollars, the ordinance proposes, you can get a hunting license for a drone, and take target practice on your very own Spy Ship. This is interesting because Congress has directed the FAA to make airspace more readily available for surveillance drones, and most serious legislation on the subject calls for a probable cause warrant before police utilize a drone. [ACLU] So, if the Colorado State Patrol gets a probable cause warrant to send a drone over a suspected meth lab or marijuana farm — the residents of Deer Trail could shoot it down? And, please tell me the people advocating the Drone Shoot aren’t some of the same individuals who are all for using drones to spot undocumented workers trying to cross the deserts?
Politics being cyclical, J. Patrick Coolican makes some interesting observations about Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) opinions on filibuster reform in the Las Vegas Sun. Raw data on the use of the filibuster in the Senate since God Was In Short Pants can be found here in the Senate Virtual Reference section. As Ezra Klein points out, strict constructionists may want to temper their current approval of Senatorial Filibustering — the framers weren’t all that pleased with the idea when it was first considered:
“In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a supermajority Congress, writing that “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.”
In Federal 58, James Madison wasn’t much kinder to the concept. “In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule; the power would be transferred to the minority.” [WaPo]
Klein has a much fancier chart accompanying his remarks, a chart illustrating the use of the filibuster since it became the cudgel of choice beginning around 1990 looks like this:
Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV3) is pleased all over himself for voting in favor of the Violence Against Women Act — except the following comments don’t exactly fit the bill for which he voted.
“This bill provides increased resources for criminal investigations, strengthens penalties against abusers to better protect victims, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and funds programs that protect victims from the physical and mental scars of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and rape.” [Heck]
Heck voted in favor of H.R. 4970 — the House version of the bill — which doesn’t protect women in LGBT relationships. Law enforcement officers called out on domestic assaults don’t ask who’s in the house, they perform their duties, and then may steer the victims to services available to assist them. Services are not always available to victims in alternative relationships. Secondly, the House version DOES NOT PROTECT NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN from non-tribal abusers who can take advantage of jurisdictional issues in order to avoid prosecution in state courts, and/or advantage of the lack of resources in federal courts for prosecuting the miscreants.
“Native women aren’t safer as a result of the passage of H.R. 4970. In fact, the tribal provisions included in this bill create additional hurdles for Indian women seeking protection from violence on tribal lands, and that is unacceptable” – Juana Majel-Dixon, 1st Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and co-chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women.” [4VAWA] (emphasis added)
Finally, Heck has actually reduced law enforcement resources required to fight sex trafficking crimes against women. Women lured to this country by “marriage” offers and then battered by abusive husbands are trapped in a bind — seek prosecution of their abusers and lose permission for residency (meaning they can be deported before they have a chance to testify) or endure the abuse to maintain legal residency. Law enforcement officials want to offer women in these relationships special immigration status so that they can remain here to help substantiate charges of abuse. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the vocal lobbyists against the Senate version of the bill is associated with SAVE and Encounters International. The bottom line:
“It’s shocking to me that the people who are advocating for these anti-immigrant provisions are the people who have a monetary interest in not holding batterers accountable and not holding marriage broker agencies accountable,” she told HuffPost. “These are the ones reaching out to House Republicans, and Republicans are supporting the policies they’re pushing.” [RWW]*
So, Representative Heck can assert that he “supports” the Violence Against Women Act, BUT without protecting members of the LGBT community, Native American women, and battered mail-order brides.
Nevada Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) is also pleased with himself:
“As the father of two daughters, this legislation is very important to me,” said Amodei. “It increases resources for investigations, prosecutions, and victim services, while strengthening penalties and promoting educational awareness to prevent violence from occurring in the first place. And because good intentions aren’t good enough, this version of the bill would help ensure taxpayer resources go to help victims rather than Washington bureaucrats.” [Amodei]
However, “this legislation” he is speaking of is also H.R. 4970. Well now, NO, H.R. 4970 doesn’t actually “increase resources” at least not for the victims mentioned above. Nor does his last comment about “good intentions” make any sense other than as a toss-in line bashing federal efforts to administer VAWA efforts. In fact, Amodei’s “good intentions” obviously don’t apply to the three categories of victims (LGBT, Native American, and Battered Mail Order Brides).
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) hasn’t yet offered an explanation for her vote in favor of H.R. 4970 in roll call 258, unless it is that she is hoping conference committee actions will retain the crucial elements of S. 1925 assisting members of the LGBT community, Native American women, and battered mail order brides.