BAYH STICKS UP FOR GOP OBSTRUCTIONISM…. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told his colleagues yesterday, “Don’t let the Republicans filibuster us into failure. We want to succeed, and to succeed, we need to stick together.”
It sounds like a pretty simple, common sense concept. The electorate has given Democrats a chance to govern, and expect them to deliver. Members of the caucus “may vote against final passage on a bill,” Durbin said, but like-minded colleagues should at least reject the idea of “allowing the filibuster to stop the whole Senate.” He concluded, “We ought to control our own agenda.”
Some “centrist” Dems don’t see it that way.
Evan Bayh, a moderate from Indiana, said he would not be inclined to vote to cut off a filibuster on a bill if he opposed the substance of the underlying measure, and he predicted his colleagues would feel the same way.
“Most senators aren’t sheep,” he said. “They don’t just go blindly along without thinking about things, and I don’t think we want them to do that.”
It’s hard to overstate how absurd this is. If legislation Bayh doesn’t like comes to the floor, he can vote against it. Before that, he can offer amendments, give speeches, and encourage others to agree with him. Senators, as he noted, aren’t sheep. Some bills may enjoy the party’s support, but not everyone in the party will see the issue the same way.
But that’s not what Bayh is arguing here. He’s saying he’s inclined to help the failed, discredited minority block the Senate from even giving bills a vote in the first place. It’s not enough for Bayh to vote with Republicans on key issues, he wants to help the GOP ensure there is no vote.
I’m reminded once again of remarks by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who noted last week that senators in the Democratic caucus should feel free to vote for or against any bill, but being a member of the caucus should, at a minimum, mean opposition to Republican obstructionism: “I think the strategy should be that every Democrat, no matter whether or not they ultimately end up voting for the final bill, is to say we are going to vote together to stop a Republican filibuster.”
The bottom line is, Bayh is arguing that he may occasionally want to help members of the other party abuse procedural tactics to block the agenda of his own party. “No” isn’t enough for him. “No vote” is.