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Le Figaro, France

GOP’s Hyper Guerilla War on Obama

By Jean-Sébastien Stehli

The only program that the Republicans have is systematic obstruction.

Translated By Charlotte Schwennsen

15 February 2013

Edited by Gillian Palmer

France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

We have talked a lot about the Republicans’ opposition to the project of health care reform or the debt ceiling, for example. In reality, we must talk about the systematic opposition of Republicans to every bill important to the White House. The filibuster blocking the vote to confirm Chuck Hagel is the latest act of a party held hostage by its base, which therefore puts what it believes to be its electoral interests (but that remains to be seen) before those of the nation. How can a party have taken Congress hostage?

The figures are very clear and speak volumes to the way in which the GOP views its role and above all its attitude toward its citizens: According to an investigation led by the information site Newsbound, during Barack Obama’s first term, the filibuster — a technique that permits blocking or delaying the passage of a law — was utilized more than 250 times. In order to give an idea of the hyper-inflation of recourse to this technique, between 1917 and 1970 the filibuster had only been used 58 times. The only program that the Republicans have is systematic obstruction.

To simplify, in order to put an end to a filibuster there must be a majority of 60 votes to pass the bill, whereas before the filibuster a simple majority was enough. Now, Democrats only control 54 votes in the Senate. A new rule has allowed for the implementation of another variant of the filibuster: the silent filibuster. Starting from the moment when the majority does not have the necessary votes to end the obstruction (referred to in senatorial jargon by the French term "cloture”), there is effectively no need even to make use of the filibuster — that is to say, to block the vote by taking the floor for days. It is sufficient to state that one opposes the law.

It is rare for a party to control 60 votes in the Senate, but until recently senators voted not according to their party’s slogan but rather according to their ideas. It was thus possible to obtain this quorum. For example, southern democrats were opposed to laws on equal rights, but these laws were nonetheless adopted thanks to the votes of liberal Republicans tied to Democrats.

In this period of ideological glaciation, we take note of all that democracy has lost.



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