The rise in filibusters began in earnest in 1987, said Senate historian Don Ritchie, when Majority Leader Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., began using the tactic more frequently. Democrats had regained control of the Senate for the first time in the Reagan administration, and Byrd often felt he could attract enough Republicans to get his agenda through.
In the 1990s, the two parties became more polarized, changing the nature of the filibuster. “We used to say a working majority was 55, because you could always get five from the other party on various issues,” Ritchie said. “But that middle ground kept getting smaller and smaller.”
In addition, interest groups began watching filibuster votes more closely, so “members are rewarded for blocking legislation; it’s a badge of courage,” Mackaman said.
The biggest change came during the 2005-06 session of Congress when Democrats ramped up use of the filibuster. The party controlled 45 seats and sensed the tactic could spur political gains in 2006.Democrats threatened or used filibusters on a wide variety of issues, including legislation affecting campaign finance, abortion, war spending, the Patriot Act, and the nominations of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and Dirk Kempthorne as Interior Secretary.
Frustrated with Senate Republican filibusters that stall nominations and block or kill legislation — notably the Employee Free Choice Act — the AFL-CIO Executive Council decided to educate members against the talkathons.
The fed’s statement, offered Aug. 5 by Communications Workers President Larry Cohen, chair of its legislative committee, was amended to be milder than his own union’s decision several weeks before to demand abolition of the filibuster as part of its political program this year. But Cohen told PAI the language difference doesn’t matter.
“The abuse of the filibuster doesn’t just threaten our progressive agenda. It threatens our democracy and must be challenged,” the statement added. It called on next year’s Senate, when it organizes, “to democratize its procedures and its rules.”
Hey, POS progressivessocialists liberals, be careful what you ask for because you might just get it. Then what will you do when you’re in the minority again?
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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