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Cynthia Neely: Republicans have used filibusters to block vital legislation

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Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 10:48 pm

The day that President Obama was inaugurated, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans met to plan their strategy to “make President Obama a one-term president.” Their strategy: Obstruct every policy proposed by the president in any way possible. Their weapon of choice became the filibuster, which they have used over 375 times to deny the implementation of his policies.

One definition of a filibuster is the use of dilatory or obstructive tactics to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote. Since Democrats have a majority in the Senate, measures that Democrats propose and Republicans oppose would likely pass. However, Republicans can keep a measure from passing by using the filibuster, which would then require the measure to pass by a 60 percent plurality rather than by majority rule.

The approval rating of this Congress (the 113th) hovers around 11 percent, and they are in line to be the most unproductive in history, only having passed 15 bills into law during their 2-year session. Instead, they have used their filibuster technique remorselessly.

Most of the acts which have been filibustered by Republicans during the Obama administration reveal how Republicans would rather see President Obama (and the country) fail rather than to fulfill their responsibilities to the citizens who elected them.

Some examples of bills which have been filibustered by the Republicans during the Obama administration:

Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act. This bill would prevent corporations from taking deductions and/or tax credits due to outsourcing. They also would not be allowed to defer tax payments on profits earned overseas.

The Disclose Act would require corporations to disclose political spending.

The Manchin-Toomey Bill would extend background checks to those purchasing guns at gun shows and Internet sales.

The American Jobs Act would cut payroll taxes for workers by 50 percent and provide for similar cuts to small businesses. It would include aid to states to pay teachers, police officers, and other public workers, and provide infrastructure spending.

The Buffett Bill would require a minimum 30 percent tax on the very wealthy.

The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act. The oil industry could no longer qualify for tax credits as “manufacturers,” and royalty payments to foreign governments for drilling rights would no longer be tax deductible.

Other filibustered bills include the Elder Abuse Victims Act, the Wounded Veterans Job Security Act, the Homeless Veterans Reunification Program Reauthorization Act, the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

But in its haste to take its five-week vacation, Congress was able to pass a few measures. The House and Senate did pass the Highway Trust Fund, which will keep that fund solvent for only a few more months. In doing so they decided to pay for it by “pension smoothing,” which permits corporations to put less than the required amount into pension funds for their workers, thereby increasing their profits. At the same time, this subsidy to corporations increases the unfunded liability of the pension funds, leaving future pensioners at risk.

The House also passed an immigration bill so draconian that it will unlikely pass the Senate and is sure to be vetoed by President Obama. But it satisfied the far right agenda subscribed to by House representatives Michelle Bachmann and Steven King. Rep. Bachmann bragged that she and other Tea Party members “completely gutted” the version proposed by John Boehner and the Republican leadership, an indication that Congress is not only divided by red and blue, but the red has obstructionists within its own party.

But the irony of this last week is stunning. John Boehner and his Republican cohorts voted to sue President Obama for using executive authority in delaying the Affordable Care Act, a law they tried to repeal over 50 times. Seriously.

But the irony does not end there. As they tried to fashion some sort of an immigration bill before leaving for their vacation, the Republican leadership stated that if a bill is not passed, the president has the tools to address this problem without congressional authorization. So one day they voted to sue him for exercising his executive authority, and the next day they demanded that he assert his authority to address the immigration issue. You can’t make this stuff up.

Cynthia Neely is a Lodi resident and former city attorney.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Christina Welch posted at 4:27 pm on Mon, Aug 11, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    I hardly think that quoting your own words from last year in which you are quite eloquent and comparing them with your comments now is an "unsubstantiated allegation." If it was, I doubt Simon would have allowed my comment below. Nor would he have allowed Mike's musings several weeks ago. Your poor writing skills alone have not resulted in any misinterpretations, it's the fact that they exist now when they didn't before. You choose not to explain the difference in your writings from then and now, and that's fine; you don't have to. But I also have the right (and I believe it is reasonable) to question your authenticity, and without a reasonable explanation for the difference in your writings, that is where I'll stand.

  • Jien Kaur posted at 3:24 pm on Sun, Aug 10, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 382

    Mrs. Welch:

    To let you know, I am writing this response to you with the assistance of my English tutor so there can be no doubt as to the meaning of my message to you. Apparently, my poor writing skills have resulted in some misinterpretations of my meanings.

    I really do not know what your allegations against me seem to be. I can tell you that you are violating the Rule #4 above by making "unsubstantiated allegations" and creating unsubstantiated "rumors and gossip" with your speculations. And for what reason? Because someone disagreed with your viewpoint or corrected the information in your response to another person?

    You do know that I can read what you wrote? It is not as if I was not "in the room" so to speak. Or maybe you have done this deliberately to frighten me for some reason?

    I am a wife, mother, and very respected member of my religious community who has many, many social and political concerns. I have lived in several countries and am familiar with those same concerns in other parts of the world. I am using this comment section to practice my English without the help of my tutor so I can later have her check the many mistakes so I can learn. I am not embarrassed about my so-called "broken English." In fact, I realize now that I have deliberately left myself open to prejudices to the complete horror of my children.

    I have opinions and factual information to share, just like any other person here and I believe I have not been disrespectful to anyone. The opposite is true as I have been mocked by Mr. Ed Walters, Mr. Jerome Kinderman, and you have made some speculations that I am "suspicious" for some reason and have made efforts to find my comment history.

    You have accused me of making "snide comments" (I had to look up "snide" in the dictionary and found it means "derogatory in a nasty, insinuating manner"). That would be against the rules of this section. You have demanded that I explain my prior posts. That information is personal and not of your concern as I stated previously. I have not used my account here on a regular basis because I am working on my language skills in writing now after making advances in oral communication.

    If you have a problem with me commenting here, you should make inquiries to the moderator Mr. Birch and not make speculations.

    Otherwise, you might want to take your own advice as you stated earlier last week and "put (me) on ignore" so that my comments do not bother you.

    Thank you for your attention.

  • Christina Welch posted at 1:00 am on Sun, Aug 10, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    I agree, Kevin, but I don't have much faith that our politicians will ever do their homework like they should [sad]

  • Christina Welch posted at 12:55 am on Sun, Aug 10, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    In no way am I dismissing you, Thomas, and I never would. I value your opinion and insight a great deal. You are correct, you have lived much more than I have and seen much more than I. Although I'm not exactly a "spring chicken" I definitely am behind you by at least a couple decades. Most of what I know is from what I have read, not experienced, unlike you. You make an important point about the role of technology today; in many ways, it is indeed a game-changer. I had not considered that. It does make everything much more biting and easily disseminated, and that is indeed a difference, historically speaking. And, add to it the unprecedented levels of campaign money , as you said, it only intensifies it all the more. I guess it is a very different world today, indeed. Thank you for the clarification and edification.

  • Christina Welch posted at 12:30 am on Sun, Aug 10, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    Thank you for your input, Mike. I still have my doubts, however. It wasn't the first post or two. I found posts from her going back to Oct. 2013: "One nurse at a hospital is qualified to determine the viability of a healthcare program. Was her minor in economics? Healthcare administration? Public administration?
    Sounds perfectly reasonable. Bravo for her."

    And: "Is this the same D ick Morris who was kicked out of the Clinton administration for bringing prostitutes into the Oval Office to meet the president? "Known AFFILIATIONS with the Weather Underground?" He was at a fundraiser at the same time as Bill Ayers. If that is what you call "known affiliations" you need to revisit your understanding of the word "affiliation." And many posts from that point on, written in perfect English.

    It just makes no sense to me, Mike, and makes me very suspicious.

  • Mike Adams posted at 5:34 pm on Sat, Aug 9, 2014.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1572

    Just to clear up any mystery, I was informed that Jien is learning the English language (and getting better at it, and writing it is always far more difficult than just speaking it and understanding it (check out my Spanish)) by a third party. I believe her tutor helped her write that first post or two, but Jien is doing most of it herself. I believe the thoughts are Jien's, not her tutor.

    I thought originally, that the first post or two was written by a person who is banned and who had snuck back here again using the personna of someone from a foreign country. One of our members who is a stickler for rules bought the ruse by the way. I don't care that this person was banned as I told him never to speak to me again and ignored his attempts at engaging me under his undercover identity.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:43 am on Sat, Aug 9, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2111

    No worries, Christina. Sometimes I am in a hurry writing and use the wrong word. In this case I was thinking VOTE. As in a Yay or Nay on each and every "Rider" (thanks for the right terminology).

    My hope in the Line Item action (whatever term we want to use) is that it would force the politicians to do their homework on EVERYTHING they pass. Or at least have staff that can appropriate summarize and propose a vote one way or the other.

    I would rather the politicians have to work harder and things pass slower than have a bunch of "riders" snuck through with no one knowing what they are.

  • Christina Welch posted at 10:10 pm on Fri, Aug 8, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    Kevin, I think Jien's comment was directed towards me, not you, and I responded to it earlier, before reading your comment here. BTW--I love Govtrack, too. It is a very useful resource for studying Congress.
    And, since I'm writing anyway, I just want to say that I hope I didn't offend you with my line item veto comment. I totally misread your earlier comment and thought that's what you said. As for a line item VOTE, that might be a novel idea, It would make things go even slower in Congress (if that's possible) but it could help to alleviate those riders. And, I don't think that would require constitutional change. Still, do you think the members themselves would want to do it and risk giving up the pork they send back home?

  • Thomas Heuer posted at 6:06 pm on Fri, Aug 8, 2014.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1674

    Ms Welch

    Your "...it will be interesting to see how history records this era twenty, thirty years from now..." is interesting.

    I don't know how old you are and don't need to know, but I am over 60 yrs old. The time period you give as a judgement waiting period is interesting since I've already lived nearly 2 to 3 times that period and have good awareness of the previous times to make a good evaluation of what is currently happening. I have lived the history through some tumultuous times. But to avoid belaboring this issue I just want to make a couple of points because I feel I am being dismissed as not being credible here. However I think it important enough to defend my position with some credentialing.

    I will explain one main difference we have today and that is the internet and cable TV. There has never been until recent time 24/7 news reporting and information sharing as the web and email and Twitter Feeds have given us. I feel your age may require some explanation from someone who lived before this time that is by now taken for granted by younger generations.

    A critical change came with the Newt Gingrich congress where congress men and women were discouraged from getting to gether with members of the opposite party where many conflicts were resolved over dinner and/or drinks. Today such fraternization is long gone thanks to Newt Gingrich.

    One major difference now is the amount of money it takes to run a campaign. So all activities by politicians are seen as campaign opportunities and congress has become the super campaign central. Outrageous things are said or accusations made that get news headlines. The news is repeated over and over on the cable shows, websites, emails and twitter accounts. Now the more disturbing the headlines the more people are outraged and call their representatives and then donate money. I get emails from Judicial Watch, Infowars and the Tea party. They all say outrageous stuff followed by a request for money. Yes I get the leftist ones too but their not as bysterical or outrageous as the conservatives.

    So this is just a brief rebuttal and I could add more or give more examples to support me but this is it. Being a history buff myself especially of early American history I could elaborate more past comparison but I think if this doesn't credential me enough then nothing more will suffice. Nuff said.

  • Jien Kaur posted at 1:38 pm on Fri, Aug 8, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 382

    Mrs Welch say to me - What's up, Jien? Just wanted to get a jab in at me?

    I think you very defending person when someone make a answer different than you like Mrs Welch - as the Mr Diskin upset you much other day.

    The Mr Kevin Paglia very make it clear he mean 'line item vote' not veto. The Mr Paglia say - This is why I fully support a line item vote. I would guess 90% of measures would pass easily. It would be the underhanded measures that get caught and blocked in a line vote.

    To me I understand 'vote' in the congress when congress people can vote not for certain item they want not to pass.

    I reply the direct to the Mr Adams about his question by my email. Like the rules here say not to reveal the personal information and it is only my own concern what his question asked - not to yours. Sorry if you do not like.

    If you have been work with oppression of women for many many years in many other countrys especially the India and you see many many ugly beatings and rapings and killings you could see how the Mr Ed say many not nice things about women here. I have to find the word to someone else - they say 'contempt' for women.

  • Christina Welch posted at 11:17 am on Fri, Aug 8, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    What's up, Jien? Just wanted to get a jab in at me? I know Kevin knows it's a line item veto, we've discussed this before. I wasn't in any way insulting him, so why do you come rallying to his defense? And, the snide comment about me doing research on Wikipedia...Joanne Bobin used to say that to me all the time on here, and I find it funny to see it coming from you. Mike asked you awhile ago to explain why your English skills are worse now compared to other posts you did in the past (he gave the example of the Larson School LTE) and you never replied to him. I think I might know the answer now... Would explain all the anti-woman rhetoric you address toward Ed, too. I think it's time to put you on ignore [wink]

  • Christina Welch posted at 11:05 am on Fri, Aug 8, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    Again, you make some valid points, Thomas, and I can see how you feel as you do. Right now all the goings on aren't history--we're caught up in the midst of it--and so it is real for us and we feel it quite passionately and directly. Congressional approval is at an all time low, but that is a measure that has been around only since the 1970s or so, I believe. Historically, such partisanship and gamesmanship and such displeasure of the people with their government is nothing new, we just don't have direct measures of it. But, when you go through primary sources from the times, you can see much of the same that we are seeing today. As a history teacher, I just don't think it is unprecedented. Now, it will be interesting to see how history records this era twenty, thirty years from now, when we're not directly living it.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 10:50 am on Fri, Aug 8, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2111

    Actually I only use Wikipedia for an overview. I try to find outside sources that are not as easily rewritten. If i can I will go to the source, as in the Govtrack.com site posted earlier

  • Jien Kaur posted at 9:28 am on Fri, Aug 8, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 382

    The Mr Heuer say - I have no idea how many bills are being held without a vote.

    Until may problems around world we the US people did not know that also problem with having no ambassadors to many countries we need talk to - Russia is one and also the central america countrys. Good reading to see how bad the fight between the republicans and the president Obama can be to this country.


  • Jien Kaur posted at 11:37 pm on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 382

    The Mr Paglia say 'line item vote' not line item veto. Two different subjects and you are very correct in the information from the wikepedia. Very clever yes. Good that you do the research to learn to teach others what you think they not know.

  • Thomas Heuer posted at 9:50 pm on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1674

    Ms Welch
    Mine is not a contention that congress has never been a vexation on any administration far from it. How ever if you look at approval ratings for congress over recent history they have been in steady decline and are at the lowest they have ever been. Yes every administration has had their complaints and even before Obama law making was considered as revolting as watching sausage being made. But that's democracy. That's deliberation to solve problems with different vantage points of different states and their districts.

    Now we have an additional element I don't think we have ever seen before please correct me if I am wrong. But as Ms Neely stated (and I know for a fact "The day that President Obama was inaugurated, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans met to plan their strategy to “make President Obama a one-term president.”

    Their strategy:
    Obstruct every policy proposed by the president in any way possible."

    Not issues, not new programs, not liberal concerns but everything. Why would they do that? As I said before the deliberation that went on before in congress was to many frustrating but now we don't have deliberation only political theater. We have hearings you may feel are warranted but many have been a waste of time serving only for political fund raising. We sat through 50 attempts to repeal Obamacare when it was never going to fly. So this congress will have passed the fewest bills ever yet contemplated impeachment the most without any grounds.

    So this is not just more of what we have seen in the past this is UNPRECEDENTED. There has never been stark party opposition to a president that had as its motives a refusal of total cooperation, not simply partisan issues, but any issue in the name of political gamesmanship. So what are we paying them $100,000+ and benefits for? And Boehner's silly comment (paraphrased) 'we shouldn't be judged by how much legislation we passed but how little we didn't". This totally ignores the realities we are facing.

    I have no idea how many bills are being held without a vote. There are several reasons bills may not be brought to the floor, not enough votes, more urgent bills to be considered, public sentiment wavering, etc. but only one reason for the filibuster. Harry Reid got rid of the filibuster in the senate just so it could hopefully help reduce gridlock. I don't think I ever saw, at least directly, the constitutional provision for the filibuster.

    We do seem to agree we have many issues before us in this country that does need attention and it takes acts of congress to get them done. The president is only able to do so much in his executive authority despite the criticism he gets for it. There are citizens that want him to do more. It is a big country and not everyone thinks like a conservative Tea Partier who always speak as if they are speaking for all America. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:10 pm on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2111

    You are right in the half the story you are telling. The Republicans ARE blocking a very large number. Harry Reid is sitting an a ton others. Made me curious about how many bills are being proposed. Seems the current political powers are seeking a HUGE up-kick in their power by getting a LOT of bills pushed through:

    Congress has been averaging 5% of bills passed for a number of years.


  • Christina Welch posted at 11:30 am on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    They're called "riders", Kevin, particularly with appropriations bills. And you are correct about their usage. A line-item veto is an interesting idea--many governors enjoy that power. But the Supreme Court has held it to be unconstitutional at the national level (Clinton v. City of New York.) The only way to have it is to amend the Constitution, and good luck with that!

  • Christina Welch posted at 11:23 am on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    I'm sorry, Thomas, but I am one of those who ascribe to the "they all do it" attitude to a point. Yes, the obstructionism is very bad today, but it is not without precedent. President Hoover dealt with a Democratically-controlled Congress who didn't do anything he attempted in trying to deal with the Great Depression (part of the reason he gets such a bad rap for not handling it well.) Harry Truman successfully campaigned against what he called the "Do-Nothing Congress." Kennedy dealt with a great deal of obstructionism in Congress while trying to push through civil rights legislation. With that said, however, I do think our nation is facing some serious problems right now and both sides should be working together to try and solve them. I do not agree with the obstructionism, even if I do see that it is not unprecedented.

  • Thomas Heuer posted at 10:03 am on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1674

    Excellent letter Ms Neely
    You managed to sum up the problem quite nicely. And for any who would adopt the opinion that what conservatives (and especially the Tea Baggers) are doing is simple tit-for-tat politics or they all do it attitudes, couldn't be more wrong. This is unprecedented and it's not simply foot dragging on the part of conservatives it is crippling and dragging the country down.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 9:34 am on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Why is it that a successful or "productive" Congress is measured by the number of bills offered and passed instead of the quality of those laws? Ms. Neely gleefully announces Congress's low approval ratings but says nothing about President Barack Hussein Obama's current standing insofar as the American people are concerned.

    The fewer laws passed by Congress and the less Mr. Obama uses his pen and his phone, the better off the American people will be.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 7:18 am on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2111

    I also notice that the fair and balanced Cynthia Neely has NOTHING negative to say about Harry Reid and all measures sitting on his table that he is blocking by not even allowing a vote on.

    Makes me wonder why she Ok with her own party blocking bills by not allowing votes to happen, but against the Republicans from doing the same???

    No need to answer Ms. Neely, we all know the answer already

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 7:14 am on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2111

    Whenever I see "________ Party blocked the __________ Act" The very first thought that goes through my head is "what else was in the measure?"

    There are many very good Acts that Republicans and Democrats agree on, BUT then one side or the other starts throwing in little side measures unrelated to the main Act to try and get something snuck through on something else's merits.

    This is why I fully support a line item vote. I would guess 90% of measures would pass easily. It would be the underhanded measures that get caught and blocked in a line vote


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