And the Scripts Have Officially Been Exchanged

And the Scripts Have Officially Been Exchanged February 11, 2015

With control of the Senate changing from Democrats to Republicans, they should have held a ceremony to exchange the official scripts on the filibuster. Those Democrats who railed against the filibuster when they were in the majority would now use it whenever they thought it would be effective, while the Republicans who used it at an astonishing rate for the last few years will feign outrage that the Democrats would do such a thing. And here we go again:

Last week the Republican-led Senate voted three times in three days to move legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security with provisions overturning Obama’s executive actions to protect millions from deportation. All three times, Democrats united to filibuster it, stopping it dead in its tracks, and leaving Republicans empty-handed.

The conundrum was somewhat predictable. McConnell had relinquished his only surefire leverage — to withhold funds to keep the government running — by promising there was “no possibility of a government shutdown” on his watch.

Without the threat of a shutdown, Democrats had little incentive to play ball, and Obama had no reason not to veto a bill that undermined his major initiatives. Complicating matters further for McConnell, Democrats are steeled by the recognition that voters typically blame the party that controls Congress, not the White House, for a government shutdown. And so Democrats didn’t hesitate to filibuster the bill, and the president has been unwavering in his refusal to sign anything that irreparably harms his signature initiatives.

McConnell was flummoxed by Democrats’ blocking tactics.

“I think it’s a rather, honestly, absurd position to say that, ‘We object to the bill but we don’t want to debate the bill or change the bill.’ So, I’m perplexed,” he said, responding to a question from TPM. “I think it’s a pretty hard argument to make with a straight face.”

You think so, Mitch? You managed to do it with a straight face for the last several years when Republicans refused to even allow an up or down vote on dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of bills. You aren’t perplexed at all, you’re just reading the new script you got from Harry Reid when you took his gavel from him a few weeks ago.

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