Thanks to Senator Jim Bunning the nation — particularly the 1.2 million Americans to lose unemployment benefits, 2,000 construction workers who’ve been furloughed, Medicare doctors who’ve had to cut 21% of their fees, and the 2 million Americans who’ve lost television access — is becoming acquainted with the ins and outs of the dark side of the filibuster (as opposed to the Mr. Smith Goes To Washington side). Also, the ins and outs of the special Senate elevator.
Technically, however, technically this is not a filibuster! Though the outcome — one person holding up legislation is quite similar. Senator Jim Bunningis technically objecting to a repeated unanimous consent request by Senate Democrats…”Withholding unanimous consent simply means that the Senate will have to hold procedural votes that it would otherwise waive in order to finish its work.” Red State (via Hot Air) explains the difference in rather exasperated terms:
Yet, news account after news account of his continued objection to this unanimous consent request report his actions as a filibuster. Politico, Roll Call, Fox News, CNN, and the list goes on and on. And the accusation of filibustering is even worse among Senators and Congressmen, as exemplified by the DCCC Chair, Chris Van Hollen and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. But it simply is not the case that what Mr. Bunning is doing is a filibuster under the rules, as anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the U.S. Senate fully comprehends…
Nevertheless! Bunning, thanks to a general ignorance of the term filibuster, is giving filibustering a bad name! WaPo’s Ezra Klein thinks Bunning is doing the world a favor: “Senate reform, however, could have no better friend than Bunning. Last year, ending the filibuster was a quixotic blogger obsession. Now it’s the subject of a petition by the Senate majority whip. Former Republican majority leader Bill Frist says his colleagues are ‘overdoing’ the filibuster. This is how change begins, and without Bunning making clear exactly what the problem is, it would be impossible.”
I’m not sure “quixotic blogger obsession” is a fair description, actually, since Rachel Maddow has been railing on the filibuster for weeks now. This is Maddow from two weeks ago discussing the problematic filibuster with the New York Times’ Gail Collins.
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