Thursday, January 21, 2010

Show us what you've got

On Tuesday, voters in the state of Massachusetts elected Republican Scott Brown to take the US Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for 46 years. In the balance, the 60-seat Senate majority held by the Democratic Party will slide to 59, and the football that is Health Care Reform (HCR) is once again held by Lucy, with a nasty gleam in her eye.

I contacted my US Senators and Representative today, each of them a Democrat (I do live in Chicago after all), to see where they currently stand. I don't think it should be that difficult to get a straight answer, given that very similar bills have already passed the House and Senate, and the Congress is currently in conference to work out the differences. But so far the responses have been tepid, at best, with promises only to keep working the issue.

Here's what I think. The President has said he does not want to hold a vote on HCR before Senator-Elect Brown is seated. As far as I'm concerned, that's fine, and a decent means of proceeding in an adult fashion. But fuck all do I think it's ok to allow for a procedural filibuster to take hold after all the BS already surmounted just to get to this point.

So I propose a gentleman's compromise. Conference 24 hours a day to knock off the roughest edges on the two bills and morph them into something palatable within a week. Get all Democrats on board to shepherd the uni-bill through the shitstorm of process, and have it sitting on the floor waiting for a vote. Seat Senator Brown. After five minutes of handshakes, call for an "up or down" vote, and see where the chips fall.

The Senate is a majority-ruled institution for a damn good reason. Time to put the filibuster back in its place (that place being a rarely used tool to scream bloody murder when something egregiously appalling to the minority party is on its way to becoming law), and get Congress working once again. We have a unique opportunity to do exactly that before going about and changing the Senate rules to codify a neutered filibuster. Let's strap on a pair and get it done.

No comments: