Tag: Jeff Merkley

Jul 17

Congressional Game of Chicken: Compromise? Reached On Presidential Nominees

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Harry and the Democrats have once again backed off fixing the unconstitutional filibuster rule in the Senate that has allowed the minority party to stall everything from nominees to offices, the bench and passing legislation this session.

A tentative agreement to avert reforming filibuster on presidential nominees to administrative positions was reached during the night on an unusual private session between the two caucuses.

The deal, which was negotiated primarily between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was described by a Senate Democratic aide as one in which the Republican Party will allow votes to confirm the seven executive nominees, provided that Obama replaces his two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board with two other names. Those nominees would have a commitment “in writing” from GOP leadership to get a vote, the Democratic aide said.  [..]

Getting replacements for the NLRB nominees is, more or less, a face-saving measure for the GOP leadership. Republicans had argued that the nominees, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, were irrevocably tainted because Obama elevated them as recess appointments, which were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Democrats countered that such taint would have been wiped away had Block and Griffin received a clean vote by the Senate. [..]

Under the proposed deal between the two parties, which the Democratic aide cautioned was “not final yet” as of 11:00 a.m., Reid would also retain the right to consider rules reform in the future. There are “no conditions or restrictions on future action whatsoever,” the aide said. Another aide confirmed that position.

According news reports from aids, Reid had stopped talking to minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, choosing instead to broker a deal through McCain.

The cloture vote on Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was taken late this morning, passing 79 – 29 thus ending the filibuster on his nomination. Final confirmation will take place later today.

There are some Democrats not satisfied with the tentative deal over Block and Gross:

Republicans have balked as the question to whether their recess appointments are constitutional awaits a Supreme Court decision this fall. Instead, Republicans are hoping to slot in two new Democratic-chosen NLRB members in place of Block and Griffin, a move sure to rile up the liberal wing of the party.

Democrats tried to come up with some potential replacement for Block and Griffin over the weekend, but have been unsuccessful up to this point. [..]

Some veteran Democrats, however, are standing by Block and Griffin, and are urging Reid and the White House not to cave to GOP pressure, as are labor leaders.

“If it’s a deal that somehow carves out Sharon Block and Richard Griffin from going on the NLRB, then I am going to be standing up. Because I think it would be grossly unfair to throw them out simply to make a deal,” declared Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). “Until the Supreme Court decides it, they have every right to be where they are.”

The Democratic leadership is concerned with threats made by Republicans that if they win the Senate in 2014, they would change the Senate rules in such a way as to completely block any presidential nominees and enable them to push though their agenda. The question is what is to stop them from doing this anyway? Does anyone really believe that a Republican led senate would tolerate a Democratic minority obstructing their agenda? Republicans have already threatened random acts of obstruction should Democrats exercise the option. But, truthfully, how much more obstructive can they get?

If the Democrats expect to get anything done or anyone confirmed to the bench before they lose their majority, they needed to do it now.  

Jul 13

Congressional Game of Chicken: Filibuster Reform Is Back

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Once again Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is rumbling about reforming filibuster as the GOP minority continues to block confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominees for key administration offices. On Thursday, Reid took to the floor of the senate slamming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for breaking his word on confirmations.

This latest confrontation is over seven pending nominees, including leaders for the Labor Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, a consumer protection agency and vacancies to a politically important labor law oversight board. While Republicans signaled a path to confirmation for the EPA and Labor nominees, the parties remained at loggerheads over Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). McConnell objected to trying to confirm officials already on the board who were “unlawfully” appointed in a recess session. If the Senate fails to act on the nominees for the NLRB, it will cease to function at the end of August. The rules change that is being proposed would not effect judicial nominees which would still be subject to filibuster

McConnell shot back calling this stand off the “darkest days of the senate” and, on his campaign Facebook page posted an image of Reid’s tombstone with the words “Killed the Senate.” While Reid agreed to a closed door private conversation in the Old Senate Chambers with all the Senators, it was after a 75 minute private meeting with McConnell, that Reid emerged adamantly stating that he wanted the nominees approved, or the rules changed.

One of the proponents of reforming filibuster, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), circulated a memo to his Democratic colleagues on the history of filibuster, countering the Republican cries of that the rules change would be “unprecedented”:

“The notion that changing Senate procedure with a simple majority vote is ‘changing the rules by breaking the rules’ is an absolute falsehood,” reads the memo, which was provided to The Huffington Post. “Indeed, the Senate appears to have changed its procedures by simple majority … 18 times since 1977, an average of once every other year.”

Merkley Memo On Filibuster

Merkley is working with Reid, who appears to be more committed to reform this time. One anonymous aid advocating for reform said he believed that Reid had the 51 votes which could include Vice Pres. Joe Biden as the “51st” vote to break a tie.

Reid has called for a cloture vote on the nominees for next week. Being a skeptic about Reid’s leadership and his resolve in the past on reform, I’ll believe it when it happens.

Jan 29

Congressional Game of Chicken: The Last Word on Filibuster Reform

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Tom Harkin: Filibuster Reform Failure Hamstrings Obama Agenda

by Michael McAuliff

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) warned President Barack Obama that he “might as well take a four-year vacation” if the Senate fails to pass real filibuster reform — and the plan being unveiled Thursday by Senate leaders doesn’t qualify, the veteran lawmaker said. [..]

“Does it help a little bit? Anything helps around here,” Harkin said of the leaders’ filibuster plan. “It still will provide a system where people can filibuster and they don’t even have to come here.” [..]

“I said to President Obama back in August … and I said to him the night before the election, I said to him, ‘Look, if you get reelected, if we don’t do something significant about filibuster reform, you might as well take a four-year vacation,'” Harkin said. “This is not significant.”

The president is left with few options, Harkin added.

“He can go out and give wonderful speeches and things like that, but with the House in the hands it’s in and the fact that in the Senate now you have to have 60 votes to pass anything, well, I dare say that Obama’s package — his very aggressive proposals — will not get very far,” said Harkin.

I will give the last word on filibuster reform to MSNBC “The Ed Show” host Ed Schultz:

Is Harry Reid really a Democrat?

Jan 25

Congressional Game of Chicken: The Last Word on Filibuster Reform

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Tom Harkin: Filibuster Reform Failure Hamstrings Obama Agenda

by Michael McAuliff

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) warned President Barack Obama that he “might as well take a four-year vacation” if the Senate fails to pass real filibuster reform — and the plan being unveiled Thursday by Senate leaders doesn’t qualify, the veteran lawmaker said. [..]

“Does it help a little bit? Anything helps around here,” Harkin said of the leaders’ filibuster plan. “It still will provide a system where people can filibuster and they don’t even have to come here.” [..]

“I said to President Obama back in August … and I said to him the night before the election, I said to him, ‘Look, if you get reelected, if we don’t do something significant about filibuster reform, you might as well take a four-year vacation,'” Harkin said. “This is not significant.”

The president is left with few options, Harkin added.

“He can go out and give wonderful speeches and things like that, but with the House in the hands it’s in and the fact that in the Senate now you have to have 60 votes to pass anything, well, I dare say that Obama’s package — his very aggressive proposals — will not get very far,” said Harkin.

I will give the last word on filibuster reform to MSNBC “The Ed Show” host Ed Schultz:

Is Harry Reid really a Democrat?

Jan 23

Congressional Game of Chicken: Filbuster Reform is Giving Harry a Headache

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Don’t Stop Now! Call Reid’s office at 202-224-3542, and tell him to include the talking filibuster and/or flipping the burden of the filibuster.

Reform the Filbuster

Sign the Petition

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a headache, Filibuster Reform.

Filibuster reform has become a headache for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Reid is stuck in the middle, between liberal senators pushing hard for drastic reform and senior Democrats balking at changing the culture of the upper chamber. [..]

Reid has begun to show signs of impatience with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), with whom he has been negotiating for weeks. He said Tuesday that he and McConnell have made progress, but added, “[W]e’ve got a long way to go.”

The Nevada Democrat said he would give Republicans another 24 to 36 hours to agree to filibuster reform and then trigger the so-called nuclear option. This controversial tactic would allow him to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote.

Sen.  Reid insists that reform is at the top of his agenda, even though it has been delayed almost three weeks to give time for negotiations with the recalcitrant Republican minority who have used the current rule to virtually halt government. While progressive Democrats back the reforms put forth by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM), including “talking filibuster,” Sen. Reid has put forth his own proposal as a compromise in an attempt to placate six more senior Democrats who are reluctant to pass reform with a simple majority vote:

The proposals include eliminating filibusters on motions to proceed, and an idea proposed by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) that would shift the burden onto the minority by requiring 41 members to vote in order to maintain a filibuster, rather than requiring the majority to find 60 votes to end a filibuster. [..]

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a co-sponsor of the scaled-back, bipartisan filibuster reform package, also said he supports putting some onus on the minority to keep a filibuster going. [..] Levin said he continues to have problems with a nuclear option. [..] Levin said he supports getting rid of the filibuster on the motion to proceed, but again held out hope for an agreement. [..]

One of the proponents of stronger filibuster reform, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), took to the floor a little later to demand that the Senate not take half measures. [..] Udall suggested the constitutional option need not actually be invoked. [..] But he added that if Republicans don’t agree, Democrats have a responsibility to act.

If there is any hope of the Senate passing comprehensive immigration reform and gun violence prevention, along with education, infrastructure, the Violence Against Women Act, veterans aid, climate change, tax loopholes, voter suppression and the farm bill, ending filibuster gridlock is a must.

The question of whether Democrats can get this done was the topic of discussion this past weekend on Up with Chris Hayes. Host Chris Hayes was joined by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM); Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress; and Jen Psaki, former Obama White House deputy communications director.

Jan 22

Congressional Game of Chicken: Fixing Filibuster Don’t Stop Now, Part VII

Don’t Stop Now! Call Reid’s office at 202-224-3542, and tell him to include the talking filibuster and/or flipping the burden of the filibuster.

Reform the Filbuster

Sign the Petition

Filibuster

TheMomCat

Will Harry Reid kill real filibuster reform? Vote is tomorrow, January 22.

1/21/2013 10:00am by Gaius Publius

(W)e should be calling Harry Reid’s office today and tomorrow (early morning EST):

    Harry Reid:

    (202) 224-3542

Reid also has four Nevada offices, all with phones. If you call:

  1. Tell him (politely) to act like a Democrat instead of a Beltway insider & Mitch McConnell’s virtual golfing buddy.
  2. Tell him to support the Merkley-Udall proposal and nothing less.
  3. Say if he doesn’t get real filibuster reform passed in the Senate, he owns the silent filibuster for the next two years. Every Republican obstruction will be his obstruction as well.

Let’s give him naming rights if he fails us like he did two years ago. The Senator Harry Reid Silent Filibuster™, brought to you by Senator Harry Reid, the Republicans’ new best friend in the Senate.

Other Dem senators who may be wavering:

Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651
Boxer Barbara CA D (202) 224-3553
Feinstein Dianne CA D (202) 224-3841
Heitkamp Heidi ND D (202) 224-2043
Hirono Mazie HI D (202) 224-6361
Leahy Patrick VT D (202) 224-4242
Reed Jack RI D (202) 224-4642

Make the call, please. Today… early (EST). Make several. I’d be shocked if the folks in the $800 suits hit the chambers anytime before 10 or 11am – gotta have time for those lobbyist breakfasts and all.

Harry Reid seeks middle path on filibuster

By MANU RAJU, Politico

1/17/13 6:41 PM EST

The contents of a filibuster reform package are not yet finalized, sources say, and Reid is still trying to cut a bipartisan deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to avert a partisan showdown on the floor next week. But Reid seems to have discarded one of the more far-reaching proposals sought by liberals – forcing senators to actually carry out a filibuster – because of fears that the plan would effectively kill the potent delaying tactic used frequently by the minority party.



Reid’s most pressing demand is to eliminate filibusters used to prevent debate on legislation from starting. He also wants to end filibusters used to prevent the Senate from convening conference committees with the House. And he’s eager to pare back the use of filibusters on certain presidential nominations.

Senators could still filibuster in any number of situations under this approach. But Reid is weighing whether to shift the burden of the filibuster from those who are seeking to defeat it onto those who are threatening to wage one. Rather than requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster, Reid is considering requiring at least 41 senators to sustain a filibuster. That would amount to a subtle shift to force opponents to ensure every senator is present in order to mount a filibuster.



Still, what Reid is considering would fall short of a plan pushed by Sens. Merkley, Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who want to require anyone who is threatening to filibuster to actually carry one out on the floor – much like in the infamous movie classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Under their plan, if a filibuster is not defeated – but at least 51 senators want to overcome the delay tactic – senators who are obstructing would go to the floor and carry out the talk-a-thon. But once the senators stop talking, the Senate could overcome the filibuster with just 51 votes, rather than the 60 that is currently required.

Republicans and a handful of Democrats oppose this approach because they fear that it would effectively usurp the power of an individual senator to filibuster and effectively lower the threshold to overcome a filibuster from 60 votes to 51.

To repeat-

(W)e should be calling Harry Reid’s office today and tomorrow (early morning EST):

    Harry Reid:

    (202) 224-3542

Reid also has four Nevada offices, all with phones. If you call:

  1. Tell him (politely) to act like a Democrat instead of a Beltway insider & Mitch McConnell’s virtual golfing buddy.
  2. Tell him to support the Merkley-Udall proposal and nothing less.
  3. Say if he doesn’t get real filibuster reform passed in the Senate, he owns the silent filibuster for the next two years. Every Republican obstruction will be his obstruction as well.

Let’s give him naming rights if he fails us like he did two years ago. The Senator Harry Reid Silent Filibuster™, brought to you by Senator Harry Reid, the Republicans’ new best friend in the Senate.

Other Dem senators who may be wavering:

Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651
Boxer Barbara CA D (202) 224-3553
Feinstein Dianne CA D (202) 224-3841
Heitkamp Heidi ND D (202) 224-2043
Hirono Mazie HI D (202) 224-6361
Leahy Patrick VT D (202) 224-4242
Reed Jack RI D (202) 224-4642

Make the call, please. Today… early (EST). Make several. I’d be shocked if the folks in the $800 suits hit the chambers anytime before 10 or 11am – gotta have time for those lobbyist breakfasts and all.

Jan 17

Congressional Game of Chicken: Fixing Filibuster Sign the Petition, Part VI

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Time is getting short to reform the filibuster rule of the Senate. The debate and vote to reform will take place January 22, the day after Pres. Obama’s inauguration for his second term and before hearing on the president’s nominees for important cabinet vacancies.

Reform the Filbuster

Sign the Petition

Filibuster Reform Advocates Launch Petition To Include Talking Filibuster

by Sabrina Siddiqui, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — With just a week left to influence the looming debate over filibuster reform, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with the progressive Daily Kos community, launched a petition on Monday to drum up support for a proposal that would eliminate the silent filibuster.

The hope is to maintain pressure for reform that would include the talking filibuster. Merkley, Udall and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) have been pushing one such approach, which would still allow the minority to filibuster legislation but would require members to do so by actually standing and speaking on the floor. The Merkley-Udall-Harkin plan also seeks to streamline conference committee assignments and nominations, and eliminate the motion to proceed — a motion typically offered by the majority leader to bring up a bill or other measure for consideration.

Their proposal is competing with a scaled-back bipartisan plan introduced by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and backed by six other senators. In a statement accompanying the petition, Merkley argues that “other proposals out there don’t go far enough, and won’t change the culture of obstruction that paralyzes the Senate.”

“Without a talking filibuster, obstructionist Senators will still be able to silently stall any piece of legislation they want without any accountability,” he writes.>

Merkley: Time is now to reform Senate filibuster rules

Filibuster reform will be first thing on the docket when the U.S. Senate convenes on Jan. 22.

Under the U.S. Constitution, a majority of each house have the power to change its rules on the first day of the legislative session by a simple majority vote. The Senate convened the first session of the 113th Congress on Jan. 3 – and the three Democratic senators introduced SR 4. Here’s what it would do:

  Clear the path to debate – Those objecting to legislation would only have one opportunity to filibuster legislation. Specifically, the ability to bring up a bill for simple debate (the motion to proceed) would not be subjected to a filibuster.

   Restore the “talking filibuster” – Those wishing to filibuster legislation must actually hold the floor and be required to actually debate the legislation. It would end “silent” filibusters where one senator quietly objects and is not required to take the Senate floor.

   Put filibuster supporters on record – 41 senators would have to affirmatively vote to continue debate, rather than forcing 60 senators to vote to end debate.

   Expedite nominations – The process for approving nominations would be streamlined, shortening the amount of time required for debate once a nomination is brought to the Senate floor.

Historically, the filibuster was intended to protect the minority party’s interests on extraordinary issues, and it was rarely invoked. But in today’s contentious political climate the filibuster has been used in record numbers (nearly 400 times in the 112th Congress) to block votes and debate, and the requirement for 60 votes to end a filibuster has proved virtually insurmountable. For example, much of the legislation organized labor has fought for to restore collective bargaining rights and to create jobs  – from the Employee Free Choice Act, to the Bring Jobs Home Act, the American Jobs Act, and many more – never received a Senate floor vote because of the filibuster threat, even though the legislation had majority support from senators.

For these reasons, SR 4 is endorsed by the AFL-CIO and some 50 progressive groups – in a coalition called Fix the Senate Now.

As our friend, Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog says:

This is my reminder – you can help hold that group together. We need strong filibuster reform, not a weaker version. Call your senator if you believe in this (click to find the phone number).

In addition, call these senators – they are the Democrats flirting with “well, I don’t really know” when the last public list of supporters was announced:

  • Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651
  • Boxer Barbara CA D (202) 224-3553
  • Feinstein Dianne CA D (202) 224-3841
  • Heitkamp Heidi ND D (202) 224-2043
  • Hirono Mazie HI D (202) 224-6361
  • Leahy Patrick VT D (202) 224-4242
  • Reed Jack RI D (202) 224-4642

As of last report, these are the Democratic waverers (and shame on them). Please make the calls, now and daily (if you can) until January 22.

Reform the Filbuster

Sign the Petition

Jan 08

Congressional Game of Chicken: Fixing Filibuster, Part IV

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

“Get out the old phone books,” as Chuck Todd suggests in the video below, if Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) are successful in bringing filibuster reform to the Senate. By using Senate rules, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recessed the chamber at the end of Thursday’s proceedings to extend the legislative day until later this month. Debate will begin on January 22, two days after the inauguration.

“I think the conversation is going to continue between [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell [(R-Ky.)] and Harry Reid about this. I think they’re going to see if there’s a way to reach a bipartisan agreement, they’re still talking,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

“We’re going to preserve our rights, we’re going to stay in the first legislative day and deal with the rules when we get back after the inauguration,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a leading proponent of reform.[..]

Liberals say the Levin-McCain proposal is inadequate because it would not implement their highest-priority reform, the so-called talking filibuster.

Udall and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), the leading advocates for filibuster reform, say lawmakers who filibuster legislation should be required to actively hold the floor and debate. This would make it more arduous for senators who want to hold up business – they would have to organize teams to hold the floor for days or even weeks on end.

Udall said he would have to be convinced to support the Levin-McCain plan because it would not implement a talking filibuster rule, which he said is “the heart of the matter”

He said Reid may insist on it as part of any overhaul of Senate rules.

“The talking filibuster is still very much on the table,” Udall said.

Real Senate filibuster reform needed

By Frank Knapp, Jr., vice chairman, American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund

Dysfunctional!

Much of this problem lies with the voters rewarding extreme partisanship over cooperative problem solving and Congress making policy decisions that guarantee later stalemates.

However, there is one self-inflicted structural problem in the U.S. Senate that magnifies both these electorate and policy decisions – the filibuster.Except for rare occasions, the Senate is ruled by the minority. With 60 votes needed to end a filibuster that can essentially be “called-in” by the minority, the American public is being deprived both of a truly deliberative body and seeing the consequences of their voting behavior.

There is no transparency or accountability under today’s Senate filibuster rules. Consequently we have had an abusive and undemocratic use of filibusters in recent years at every step in the legislative process. The Senate has become frozen in its ability to address the nation’s problems, especially when it comes to promoting a healthy economy. That is why many business organizations like the American Sustainable Business Council, a national coalition of business organizations that together represent over 150,000 small and medium businesses, strongly supports filibuster reform.

Merkley, Udall Escalate Criticism Of Scaled-Back Filibuster Reform

by Sahil Kapur, TPMLiveWire

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM) held a briefing with reporters Thursday to make the case for adopting their “talking filibuster” proposal with 51 votes via the constitutional option. [..]

Udall said the Merkley-Udall plan has “good momentum” and said he believes it has the necessary 51 votes to pass under what Republicans call the “nuclear option.” Changing the rules ordinarily requires 67 votes.

On Filibuster Reform, Advocates Claim Momentum

by Ryan Grim and Sabrina Siddiqui, Huffington Post

The Senate postponed debate on reforming the filibuster Thursday, as advocates cited the support of 48 senators for eliminating the silent filibuster using the so-called constitutional option, a measure that requires 50 votes plus that of the vice president. [..]

The main component of the Merkley-Udall approach is the talking filibuster, which still enables the minority to filibuster legislation but would require them to do so by actually standing and speaking on the floor. Additionally, the proposal would also streamline conference committee assignments and nominations, and eliminate the motion to proceed — a motion typically offered by the majority leader to bring up a bill or other measure for consideration.

On this morning’s The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, Sen. Merkley appeared to discuss why what he and Sen Udall propose is better filibuster reform and where the negotiations stand.

Dec 21

S01E15 – The Merkley Proposal (Season Finale!)

cross-posted from Main Street Insider

Last week, in part one of our two-part series on filibuster reform, we examined the Constitutional Option to allow majority approval of rules changes. This week, in the 15th and final episode of Season 1,we look at the most prominent package of rules changes discussed to date. Roughly a month ago, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) circulated a “dear colleague” memo outlining a series of changes that are being strongly considered within current Democratic Caucus deliberations.

Enjoy this first season’s finale. It’s been a fun season for us and we’ll be back in January with a whole slate of brand new bills and other policy proposals to summarize!

*Full disclosure: David Waldman, our Public Affairs Director, is an active advisor to the Fix the Senate Now coalition.

Sep 30

This is Democracy? Meet the GOP’s one man Toll Gate

“It is my understanding Jim DeMint has had a standing hold on everything throughout this two year process,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. “When I have had amendments on a couple of occasions, I have been told: ‘Absolutely, we in the Republican leadership are fine but you are going to have to clear it with Jim DeMint because he has a standing hold on everything.’

DeMint Has Had ‘A Standing Hold’ On All Legislation For Past Two Years

Sam Stein, HuffingtonPost — 09-28-10

“… but you are going to have to clear it with Jim …”

This is Democracy?

Sounds instead like the GOP’s own version of American Idol — where Gopher DeMint is the lone ‘Simon Cowell’ on the Jury.

Jun 04

Energy Smart Jeff (that is, Senator Jeff) speaks up

Senator Jeff Merkley came to the podium during the luncheon session at America’s Future NOW! focused on energy.   He opened, reinforcing core points from his 2008 campaign:

If I’d been here a year ago, I would have talked to you about three things:  The need to transform energy economy, create jobs, and tackle global warming. … About the third, during the campaign, I spoke it about every single night. People asked me why, as it was 21st on people’s concerns.  I responded: it should be first on everyone’s agenda and the only way it will be is if we talk about it.

Senator Merkley speaks, today and elsewhere, knowledgeably and forcefully about Global Warming, providing a litany of items that should part of the agenda moving ahead. Amid these items and opportunity, Senator Merkley made some key points.  But, he provided a straightforward shorthand of what must happen.

If I am going to simplify the issue, we have to quit taking geologic carbon and turning it into atmospheric carbon.

Feb 28

Sen. Merkley: Let’s “truly end this war.”

This is worth reading and thinking about.  It’s good were going, but three years is a long time to stay.  I see Senators willing to speak up, where so many who claim to be gate crashers are silent.

MERKLEY STATEMENT ON OBAMA PLAN TO

WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM IRAQ

Washington, DC – Today, President Barack Obama outlined a plan to begin a phased withdraw of troops from Iraq, winding down active military engagement in that nation.  Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement:

“Our national interests are not served by the war in Iraq.  I applaud President Obama’s commitment to a solid plan for withdrawing our troops and ending the war.

However, I have reservations about the extended 19 month schedule for the draw down and I am very concerned that the size of the remaining force would still be too great.  It will be hard to argue that our military presence is ‘residual’ when it is comprised of as many as 50,000 Americans.  

“I hope to work with the Obama Administration to truly end this war and bring our sons and daughters home safely.”

Thank you, Senator Merkely.  Someday this man may lead a real movement for progressive change in America.      

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