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Friday, December 7, 2012

Our take on Mitch McConnell's "self-filibuster"

AFJ released this statement on a spectacle that was absurd even by U.S. Senate standards:


WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 7: The spectacle of the Minority Leader of the United States Senate filibustering his own bill perfectly illustrates the extent to which the filibuster has been abused for purely partisan purposes, according to the Alliance for Justice.

Yesterday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a bill to allow the President to raise the federal debt ceiling on his own authority.  The idea was to show that Democrats didn’t have the votes to pass such a measure.  But when it turned out the Democrats did have the votes, McConnell was in a bind.  His only way out: filibuster his own bill.

“If we didn’t know better we’d think Sen. McConnell was moonlighting as a writer for The Daily Show or The Colbert Report,” said Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice.  “But Sen. McConnell’s theater-of-the-absurd actually illustrates an extremely serious problem: the paralysis in the Senate caused by Republican abuse of the filibuster.

“The filibuster was intended to be used in extreme circumstances, where fundamental principles were at stake,” said Aron.  “But Senate Republicans have turned it into a weapon of mass obstruction to bring the business of the Senate to a halt. 

“Nowhere is this more apparent than in our federal courts.   As we document in our recent report, Senate Republicans repeatedly have abused the filibuster to block votes on nominees for federal judgeships – including noncontroversial nominees with broad bipartisan support.  That’s led to unconscionable delays and severe hardship for hundreds of thousands of Americans, forced to wait months, sometimes years to fight for their rights in court.

“That’s why it’s time to ring down the curtain on the theater of the absurd and enact serious reforms to Senate rules.”  

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