It’s good to see Harry Reid started to tackle some of the more egregious acts of obstructionism being mounted by the GOP minority in the Senate. A wise man has been trying to convince me over the past week that it’s a mistake for progressive media to focus so much attention on “tea party” antics and it would be better to focus on this issue and try to turn up the heat on it. You’re never going to get a mass public fascinated by the minutia of senate procedure, but I think people can understand that it’s a big problem when key government positions can’t be filled in a timely manner.
House passes landmark health-care bill with one GOP vote — 7 fewer than climate bill. Conservatives still channel Groucho Marx, Whatever it is, Im against it.
In the first 40 minutes of Saturday’s debate on the landmark bill, representatives from the minority party objected — or threatened to object — no fewer than 75 times, throwing in 35 “parliamentary inquiries” for good measure. The debate was delayed by nearly 90 minutes.
Anybody who wondered whether more active involvement by President Obama in the climate bill process — lots of town hall meeetings, big speeches, more direct lobbying of members — would have led to a better outcome now has their answer. No.
After all of the administration’s effort — “hours after President Obama exhorted Democratic lawmakers to “answer the call of history” — Democrats passed the health care reform bill 220-215 with 39 defections. Precisely one Republican voted for it, Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, who represents a heavily Democratic district in Louisiana. So the score in the House is 0 votes for the stimulus, 1 for health care reform and a whopping 8 for the climate and clean energy bill, which actually ended up with one less vote overall – see The U.S. House of Representatives approves landmark (bipartisan!) climate bill, 219 – 212. Waxman-Markey would complete America’s transition to a clean energy economy, which started with the stimulus bill.
We’ve recently seen every Senate Republican support a trumped-up effort to boycott and obstruct the clean energy bill (see “The GOP’s phony excuse for delaying the climate and clean energy bill“). The WashPost‘s Dana Milbank has an excellent piece on the GOP’s essential (Groucho) Marxist nature over the health care bill, “The object of their objections“:
Weekend Opinionator looks at Republican infighting but then ends wondering if the same thing is coming to the Democratic Party in the form of MoveOn looking to find primary challengers against Democrats who don’t back health reform.
It should be said, though, that the parallel isn’t quite parallel simply because there’s a difference between an intra-party fight in a majority party and an intra-party fight in a minority party. If you’re looking to build 218 votes in the House of Representatives for progressive legislation, then at this point the bulk of the 218 most promising districts are already going to be in the hands of Democrats. That’s not universally the case. Mike Castle’s Delaware at-large district, for example, could clearly support a progressive Democratic. But in general the kind of Democrat who can win currently GOP-held districts isn’t going to shift the median point in the House to the left.
For Republicans, it’s a different situation. There are lots of districts held by liberal Democrats such that replacing them with a moderate Republican would shift the median point to the right. A “big tent” strategy, in other words, could very much advance conservative goals just as a “big tent” approach did advance progressive goals in 2006 and 2008. But the bigger your caucus gets, the harder it is to make further substantive policy accomplishments with that kind of approach.