Talk about bad timing. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin launched a campaign today to end the filibuster and restore the ability for a simple majority of senators to pass legislation. His efforts include an email to supporters directing them to sign a petition at fedupwiththefilibuster.com to stop the abuse of rules that prevent majority rule. While I support the idea of ending the filibuster, I question why Durbin is just asking supporters to sign petitions instead of going to the floor right now with the help of Vice President Joe Biden to raise a Constitutional point of order against a potential filibuster of a Senate rules change, forcing an up or down vote on the matter, is beyond me? If he really wants to end the filibuster, and thinks it is wrong, he can take floor action to do just that.
What makes Durbin’s timing so terrible is that in the past two days, Republican Senator Jim Bunning (KY) launched a one man filibuster against a modest extension to unemployment insurance and COBRA coverage. After promising to stay up all night to “break” Bunning, Durbin relented and let the very tired Bunning go home to get a good night’s sleep. Unable or unwilling to “break” Bunning the next day, the Senate decided to adjourn for the weekend. David Waldman has the more:
So they had him to the point where he was shouting obscentities [sic] on the Senate floor and decided… to let him go home for a good night’s sleep.
He probably slept a hell of a lot better than the Kentuckians who are out of work and depending on those benefits, I can tell you that. No word on whether Senate Democrats actually tucked him in.
It is a good thing that Dick Durbin realizes that the Senate is broken. It is even better that he is looking at possible solutions and rule changes that could potentially fix the Senate so it can function for the American people. But If Durbin can’t convince his caucus to spend one night fighting to break a simple one-man filibuster blocking a bill that helps Americans in need keep their COBRA health insurance, how can we expect him to actually fight the much harder battle for a Senate rule change?
The words are good, Senator Durbin, but you need actions to back them up if you want people to believe you are serious and worth trying to help. The American people, and the progressive base, are sick and tired of the meaningless posturing with zero intention to play hardball in order to deliver on those promises (cough. . . public option. . . cough).