Friday, January 25, 2013

Who Needs Republicans When We Have Harry Reid?

So, rather than push through sensible reforms which would put the onus on filibustering minorities to maintain the filibuster (rather than the current burden on the majority to break it), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accepted a bipartisan deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that would basically rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic- allow the opposition to submit amendments to any bill, regardless of topic, speed up votes for Senate-House conference committees on bills... but do absolutely nothing to stop Republican abuse of the filibuster.

How big a victory was this for Republicans, and how big a defeat for liberals? McConnell's already fund-raising on it:

"Mitch McConnell saved the ability of Republicans to filibuster any bill at 60 votes. Period. … We all owe Leader McConnell a debt of gratitude today."

But wait- it turns out the victory is even bigger than that.

A federal appeals court today ruled not only that Obama's three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were invalid not only because the Senate was not recessed (it was in a pro forma session with no business and only one or two Senators in attendance)... but because the president, the conservative justices ruled, does not have power to recess-appoint anybody unless the vacancy first occurs while the Senate is in recess.

"Allowing the President to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution's separation of powers," wrote Judge David Sentelle for the court majority. "An interpretation of 'the Recess' that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law."

This is a big issue because Republicans have pledged to never again allow ANYONE to be approved to the National Labor Relations Board- or, for that matter, to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Republicans want to effectively repeal the laws establishing these agencies by preventing them from being able to function- so they're going to stonewall any nominees Obama, or anyone, puts forward.

And Harry Reid is just fine with that, because he wants to preserve the requirement that sixty Senators agree on anything before it can become a law.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why Democrats continually lose even when they win.

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