Monday, December 20, 2010

Buzz Kill

Rep. John Boehner
The repeal of DADT is no small victory.  It took enormous effort and skill to overcome the forces of discrimination, divisiveness, bigotry and ignorance in the Senate.  Unfortunately, with every step forward, it seems that Congress has to take a step or two backwards.  The DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for a few hundred thousand young people brought here illegally as children, failed to pass.  Despite a 55-41 majority in favor of the bill, unified Republicans (with 3 defectors), abetted by five scurrilous Democrats, prevented an up-or-down vote.  Republicans also blocked a vote on the Zadroga 9/11 Heath and Compensation Act, which would have provided health benefits and compensation to 9/11 rescue workers.  And so far, only four of 38 pending judicial nominations have been confirmed.  (And, as previously noted, the Democrats caved on the Obama tax cut compromise and were blindsided by Republican refusal to vote for the Omnibus Spending Bill.)

None of this should be controversial.  The DREAM Act initially had bi-partisan support, having been introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch.  As for the Zadroga bill, Jon Stewart brilliantly skewered the hypocrisy of Republicans for having endlessly exploited 9/11 for their own ends, and then preventing a vote on providing health monitoring and financial aid to sick 9/11 workers.  Republicans (with the help of Democratic ineptness) have stalled confirmation of judicial nominations despite the fact that many sailed through the Judiciary Committee by unanimous or nearly unanimous votes.

The Democrats deserve credit for their dogged and savvy maneuvering in repealing DADT.  It is very unfortunate that, with majorities in both houses, they failed to use the same resourcefulness throughout the term, and particularly in these past weeks to get other important work done.  Filibuster reform is critical to change the climate in Washington, but Democrats still have to be a lot smarter and more aggressive to counter an increasingly extremist opposition that, as this lame duck session has proven, refuses to govern unless it will be politically beneficial to their party. 

[Related posts: Strange Bedfellows, Piercing the Earmark Charade, No Se PuedeLame and Lamer, Vacant and Lame, This Should Be Easy]


Deb said...

remember these democrats who blocked the vote on the dream act: Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, Nebraska's Ben Nelson and Mark Pryor of Arkansas

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