|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The Senate Judiciary Committee has decided to delay confirmation hearings for Eric Holder after Republicans protested that the Democrats failed to give them enough time to review the record of Barack Obama's choice for attorney general.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the panel, said Monday that he would push back the hearing until Jan. 15, a week after it had originally been scheduled.
Republicans had complained that the quick pace would prevent them from reviewing Holder's record, including his role in Bill Clinton's controversial 2001 pardon of billionaire financier Marc Rich. But Leahy said his schedule for the hearing was on the same pace afforded to other attorney-general nominees.
Leahy didn't bend to the demand of his GOP counterpart, Sen. Arlen Specter, that the hearing be scheduled after Jan. 26. But he said the delay was intended to assuage GOP concerns.
The number of cloture votes skyrocketed in the 110th Congress following the Democratic takeover of the Senate and Reid's assumption of the majority leader position. The Senate voted on 112 cloture motions in the 110th, exactly double the number (56) of cloture votes in the 109th Congress, and two-and-a-half times as many as the average number of cloture votes (44) over the previous nine Congresses. Of these cloture motions, 51 were rejected (meaning that opponents of a bill succeeded in blocking an up-or-down vote) and 61 were passed.
Not all of these cloture motions, it should be noted, were necessitated by obstructionist Republicans. In some cases, such as on FISA and on certain resolutions related to the Iraq War, a minority of Democrats were seeking to prevent a vote. Undoubtedly, however, a majority of these cloture motions were in fact triggered by Republican floor action, and the vast majority of them were also procedural filibusters -- the actual filibuster, in which Mitch McConnell wets his pants while reading from the phone book for 19 hours, is now exceedingly rare.
There are basically two mechanisms that a majority leader can employ to limit filibusters: firstly, he can threaten to block votes on certain of the opposition party's legislation (or alternatively, present carrots to them for allowing a vote to proceed), and secondly, he can publicly shame them. Reid managed to do neither, and the Senate Republicans did fairly well for themselves considering that they were in a minority and were burdened by a President with negative political capital.
he bottom line, however, is that the Republicans are filibustering more and more often because they can get away with it. If Reid can't get them to pay a greater public price, then the Democrats ought to find somebody else who can.