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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Filibusters for Sale

If you know anyone who is dithering over the need for filibuster reform, refer them post-haste to Lee Fang’s “Lobbyists Who Profit From Senate Dysfunction Fight Filibuster Reform” at The Nation. Even though Dems have some anxieties about the political environment in the U.S. Senate after the 2014 mid terms, since Republicans have an edge with respect to the disproportionate number of vulnerable Senate seats held by Dems, Fang makes it clear how utterly corrupt is the current system and the need for repair:

I’ve detailed before how lobbyists, even agents for foreign governments, have secured Republican filibusters at a shocking rate….The interesting dynamic for me is, how money in politics has incentivized this contraction of democratic governance. Here are just a few examples of how powerful industries have usurped the normal gears of government, and used Senate obstruction to push policies that punish ordinary Americans and the environment:
• Senator David Vitter (R-LA) placed holds on Obama EPA nominees to delay scientific assessments on the health risks of formaldehyde, which is produced by some of his largest campaign contributors.
• According to a new report from Public Campaign Action Fund, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has collected a hundreds of thousands in funds from the same industries he has protected with filibusters, particularly from oil companies and the finance sector. McConnell has led filibusters to protect oil subsidies, to block efforts to mitigate the mortgage crisis, and against campaign disclosure reforms.
• Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) placed a “blanket hold” on every Obama nominee to force the administration to accept a Northrop Grumman contract to build a $35 billion refueling tanker in Mobile, Alabama. Northrop Grumman is a major Shelby donor.
• Senator John McCain (R-AZ) blocked the nomination of one of Obama’s most important Department of Labor nominees for months, which many believe led the US Chamber of Commerce to aggressively support McCain during a contentious primary with a Tea Party-backed candidate in 2010.
• Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), a close ally of the oil and gas industry, temporarily blocked Obama’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget to extract an administration promise to allow more oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
• Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) filibustered the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill in order to demand a policy that prevents FedEx drivers from unionizing. FedEx is Corker’s third-highest campaign donor.

Fang could probably have gone on and on with many more examples. Such are the fruits of the easy-sleazy filibuster “rules” currently in place. If Dems do nothing about it before the 2013 opportunity expires, the claim that gridlock is entirely the fault of the Republicans will lose credibility.

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