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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 11:44 AM
Original message
Serious Question on Congressional Tactics
The lack of votes to overcome a veto or prevent cloture has been extremely frustrating to everyone.

The question now might be: What more effective actions can either the House or Senate take that require only a simple majority?

It may require some creativity. The Republicans came up with an arcane method of voting to kill the filibuster with a simple majority (or so they claimed).

The only things I know are that the Democrats:

--Chair the committees
--Control which bills are voted on, and
--Can issue subpoenas
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 11:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. The Republican's so-called nuclear option...
required participation by the vice-president in his capacity as president of the Senate something the Democrats couldn't get.

And even then, it would likely be thrown to the SCOTUS, also in favor of the Republicans.

And even other than those two things, I don't think the end of the filibuster is something that should be considered by either side. Better to have it than not.
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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 12:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. I Didn't Realize it Required Cheney
Thank you for pointing that out. I don't even support ending the filibuster -- just throwing it out as a conversation starter.
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MonkeyFunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-13-07 01:24 AM
Response to Reply #1
8. How would it go to the Supreme Court?
The constitution gives each house the right to make their own rules. There's no constitutional issue at all.
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-13-07 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Well, there's one pretty important one.
That being, the question of whether the Congress' constitutional ability to "determine the rules of its proceedings" (Art. I, Sec. 5, Cl. 2, as you alluded to) includes the ability of the President of the Senate (Cheney) or the President Pro Tem (at the time, Ted Stevens) to unilaterally declare a Senate rule to be unconstitutional and thus null and void. One of the two would have to do that, recinding Senate Rule 22 (which necessitates a two-thirds majority for a Senate rule change rather than a simple majority) without a required vote.

Each body of Congress is constitutionally liable for determining its own rules. At the same time, only the courts have the power of judicial review. Therein lies the gray area that could open up a court case.

Of course, on the other hand, I don't know that any court, includng the SCOTUS, would want to touch this with a 10-foot pole.
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Phredicles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 11:49 AM
Response to Original message
2. Issue (and enforce!) subpoenas and hold wall-to-wall hearings;
Get EVERYthing out into the open as much as possible in hopes of fostering a demand for real accountability, if not not then in the future.
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EVDebs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 11:49 AM
Response to Original message
3. Tell R's we'll stop all R sponsored legislation from reaching floor
until Bush leaves. They only respond to arm-twisting anyway. Let's give them a taste of their own medicine, eh ?
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. and how many R-sponsored bills do you think have gotten to the floor so far this year?
You might be surprised.
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EVDebs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 11:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Do tell... nt
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onenote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-13-07 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. I believe the number is two and they both passed by huge bipartisan margins
Every other bill was sponsored, or co-sponsored, by Democrats.

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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-12-07 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
4. I'm a fan of the "Don't ever bring the bill to the floor" tactic.
Other than doing a lot of crying, the Pubs can't really do much about THAT!

The one thing the Dems are doing WELL at is hearings and investigations. LOTS of info has been made public during the few they've already had, and there are many more to come. Even if they can't get a super majority to get rid of the criminals, they've been quite successful at educating the public on how BAD ALL these people really are, and the majority of the public is turning against them FAST!
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-13-07 12:29 PM
Response to Original message
11. you're missing the most important and effective "tactic"
Edited on Wed Jun-13-07 12:33 PM by welshTerrier2
let's call this approach "thinking outside the box". everytime I see a defense of what the Democrats just did on Iraq funding and everytime I see one of the "the Dems don't have the votes" threads, I realize much of what causes so much friction on DU and what causes so much friction inside the Party itself.

I almost think it comes down to the classic S-N dichotomy for those familiar with Meyers-Briggs personality typing. The divide is less based on political spectrum differences, although those certainly exist, and more based on how we perceive and weigh information.

All the "how to" suggestions in the OP perfectly cover the waterfront (with one important exception) of what is possible WITHIN the narrow constraints of battling for legislation using "Congressional mechanisms." If you were to stop there, the OP is perfectly valid. In fact, it would be a perfect elaboration of the "but the Dems don't have the votes" defense. Certainly no one can argue that the Dems do, in fact, have the votes.

But therein lies the rub my fine literalist friends. The battle on any given piece of legislation is NOT just waged using Congressional mechanisms. My view is that the "external battle" is where many on the Party's left are most angered by what the Democrats have failed to address.

As an aside, check out my "How a bill becomes a law" in this post.

Democrats are angering Party progressives because many of us can't hear them really fighting and fighting with all they have for an agenda we can at least accept. There should be a daily drumbeat eminating from every Democrat that we have to have publically financed campaigns and REAL lobby reform because the current system cannot possibly yield honest legislation that represents the best interests of the American people and its citizens. Do you hear any such drumbeat? Do Clinton or Obama make that a central focus of every speech they give? I don't think so.

And look at all that money the Democrats keep voting away to the military-industrial-complex! Is it likely they would have the votes right now to make deep cuts in wasteful giveaways to mega-defense contractors? Probably not. The problem though, and the anger, comes not from their legislative disadvantages but rather from the failure to even try to make the case to the American people. That's where Congressional power can be wielded. So, "they didn't have the votes" is only a fair statement when they've done all they possibly can to awaken and educate the American people on an issue and brought that political pressure to bear on any vote that is held. That is where the Party has been a miserable failure and that is exactly why the "you can't get there from here" arguments are bogus.

Another example. Could the Democrats fight to make a condition of Iraq funding that every single penny from Iraqi oil must remain with the Iraqi people? Probably not. At least not without a veto from bush. Again, the problem is that outside of Kucinich and a handful of others, key Democratic Senators in numerous videotaped interviews have been shown ducking the question. Not only won't they level with us about where they stand and why, they run away when the question is even asked.

It seemed to me leading Democrats were genuinely stunned by the vehemence of the progressive reaction to their last cave in on Iraq funding. First, let me say that Reid never should have let that bill without conditions even come to the Senate floor. But the key point was that they did not understand their own constituents. Why do you suppose that was the case? Because they didn't engage Democratic voters in a dialog on this critical issue BEFORE THE VOTE. Does that sound like good representative government to you? All that does is lead to anger and alienation.

So, the bottom line answer to what else could the Dems do since they don't have the votes is that they could interact far more frequently with their constituents, they could make a much more effective case to the American people to bring public pressure to bear on the legislative process and they could start aggressively fighting in a very public way to strip big money and all of its corrupting influences out of the halls of government.

It turns out that the only available remedies to the current balance of power require the Democrats to fight harder and let the American people participate in the process. Imagine that. I think I'll call this new idea that no one has ever thought of before: democracy.
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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-13-07 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Thank You for the Long, Thoughtful Response
I agree that the Democratic leadership seriously misjudged the base. They may still not know the extent of the damage. This would be too bad, because there are still chances for them to redeem themselves in the coming months.

I differ from most people here in that I think sending the same bill back repeatedly would have led to disaster. Bush would have played chicken and the Democrats would have ended up getting the blame for leaving the troops stranded without cash. We'll never know, of course.

The limp response to the veto makes me think that Pelosi and Reid were not serious about, or did not seriously believe they could, end the war. They just wanted to get it on record. The voters expected them to push it through. But there may be other ways to go about it.

Funding the troops is a third rail issue that is likely to backfire. But the timetable can be attached to other legislation that Bush really cares about, such as a general appropriations bill.

Here's my suggestion: Split the next general appropriations bill into two parts. Pass funding without conditions that assures citizens continue to get federal support of various kinds and daily services they depend on. Attach an Iraq timetable to a separate funding bill that covers the remaining running of the government that affects the executive brach more than average citizens on a day to day basis.

Because of the blowback from the Gringrich shutdown, I suspect Bush will play chicken and let the government close. But I also suspect Bush will not have the public support Clinton did.

This is a high risk strategy, but IMO it has a real chance of success.
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-13-07 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. funding is NOT about "supporting the troops"
Edited on Wed Jun-13-07 01:19 PM by welshTerrier2
to follow-up on my last post, the failure of the Democrats on the last Iraq funding bill started long before they caved in.

Every single Democrat should have talked to the American people about WHY they were not going to allow a bill without conditions to come to the Senate floor.

The WHY is really very simple. There is absolutely no way that American troops occupying Iraq can make any progress to bring peace or stability to Iraq. It's not that they aren't doing all they can, it's that the situation has long since been impossible. The bottom line? It makes ZERO SENSE to continue to provide funding for an occupation that cannot possibly succeed. Period!

The Democrats should have VERY PUBLICALLY taken that case to the American people years ago and they should be saying it each and every day that passes. If there are concerns about "funding the troops", that's fine. Democrats should have brought a bill that provides every single penny the troops in Iraq could possibly need to make the safest and most rapid withdrawal but there should not have been a single penny to continue offensive operations.

The problem with the Democrats, and the reason the left is so angry with them, is that they either don't agree that leaving is the only policy that makes sense or they totally failed to make a public case saying so. Instead, they cowered in their corner in their little triangulating way and let bush frame the issue. Again, this should never have been a debate about "supporting the troops."; it should have been a debate about whether throwing good money after bad and continuing a policy that never made sense and certainly is seen by almost all as a total failure should receive any further funding.

You used the phrase "high risk strategy". In my view, doing exactly what the Democrats did was a high risk strategy. It was also a horrible policy choice. And it was a choice. I thought the Democrats were going to sail to large majorities next year because bush has clearly been the worst jackass to ever occupy the White House. Now, speaking of high risk strategies, I'm not so sure. At a time where the Democrats are putting so much emphasis on "not appearing weak", they've appeared very weak. Sometimes it takes real strength and courage to wage peace; the Party's triangulators apparently will never learn that lesson. They're all still stuck in the 1972 McGovern campaign. They think waging war "gives Americans confidence" that they are tough enough to lead; the polls after that last Iraq vote say otherwise. Will they ever learn?
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