As others see it: Use of the filibuster soars
The use of the filibuster as a needed action to pass bills in Congress is something not envisioned by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution. It is a creature of the U.S. Senate, and an increasingly used one which threatens to keep partisa...
The use of the filibuster as a needed action to pass bills in Congress is something not envisioned by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution. It is a creature of the U.S. Senate, and an increasingly used one which threatens to keep partisan forces at bay.
Common Cause, the public affairs watchdog, noted Thursday that the necessary 60 votes to cut off debate on an issue wasn't reached for the DISCLOSE Act, marking the 119th time Republicans have used the filibuster in this session of Congress. Use of the filibuster "demonstrates how unprecedented obstructionism is damaging the democratic process," Common Cause said. In this case, the bill would have required organizations involved in political campaigning to disclose the identity of large donors.
Republicans have made an unprecedented use of the filibuster in recent years to hold bills or nominations hostage to extort a ransom, usually to advance a pet project or help a favored corporate special interest. Or simply just to say "no" to everything.
Common Cause notes the irony of Thursday's filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act as the aim of the bill was to enhance transparency and minimize the influence of powerful special interests -- yet was derailed by an undemocratic abuse of loopholes in Senate rules that favors powerful special interests.
"This is the moment that senators must stand up and show their constituents how they feel about transparency, and whether they truly believe that voters should know who is paying for what in campaigns," said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. "Without passage of this bill, voters will be in the dark during the mid-term elections. What's particularly ludicrous is using the filibuster -- the most undemocratic maneuver -- on a transparency bill."
Congress, from 1919 to 1960, had only 27 motions for cloture (use of the filibuster). The use of the filibuster quickly rose, from 62 in the 108th Congress, 2003-04 when Democrats were in the minority, to 139 times in the 110th Congress, 2007-08 with a Republican minority. Thursday's cloture motion was the 119th of this session.
It's becoming more and more clear that the use of the filibuster is dividing Congress further, and preventing the people's business from being done.