Our guest blogger is Tony Carrk, Policy Director for Progressive Media, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Media Matters Action Network. Progressive Media intern Nick Wellkamp also contributed to this post.
Much has been made about Senate Republicans’ abuse of the filibuster, which has skyrocketed in recent years. But less attention has been devoted to how Republican obstruction has held up hundreds of other important pieces of legislation, many of which passed the House with overwhelming majorities and strong bipartisan support.
Because the way the Senate operates allows the legislative calendar to be consumed by extended debate, Republicans’ obstruction does not just hold up the immediate bill in question — it also holds up every other important piece of legislation waiting to be considered, and prevents the Senate from considering legislation that it would otherwise be inclined to pass.
At the end of February, The Hill reported that there were 290 bills passed by the House of Representatives in the 111th Congress that the Senate had yet to consider. Since then, the Senate has passed or tabled eight of those bills, but an analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that many of them passed the House with significant bipartisan support: of the 290 bills, 139 bills passed by voice vote, and another 105 bills passed with a majority of House Republican support, meaning at least 90 House Republicans voted “yes.”
Here are a few of the bills that passed the House with a majority of Republicans voting “yes,” but are currently stalled in the Senate due to Republican obstruction:
– The TARP Accountability and Disclosure Act (HR 1242): This legislation would make TARP funds provided to financial institutions more transparent and hold those institutions more accountable. The bill would create a single publicly available data base to track TARP funds. It had the support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as other conservative organizations such as Americans for Tax Reform. The House passed the legislation 421-0 on Dec. 2, 2009.
– A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act (HR 1933): This legislation would provide help to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies find missing children. It passed the House 417-5 on July 21, 2009.
– COPS Improvements Act (HR 1139): This legislation would increase funding to the COPS programs that help put more police officers on the street to keep us safe. It passed the House 342-78 on April 23, 2009.
– Small Business Financing and Investment Act (HR 3854): This legislation would provide assistance to small businesses so they get the credit the need to obtain loans to make payroll and expand. It passed the House 389-32 on Oct. 29, 2009.
– The Homes for Heroes Act (HR403): This legislation would expand and improve housing for homeless veterans. It passed the House 417-2 on June 16, 2009.
It may be the case that the Senate would not consider every one of these 290 bills under ordinary circumstances. However, one could assume since many of these bills passed with significant bipartisan support in the House they would be able to find enough bipartisan support in the Senate to break a filibuster. Yet given the nature of the Senate, many of these bills will not come up for debate as Republicans continue to obstruct and delay for political reasons.