Sunday, April 7, 2013

Debate vs. Filibuster

Watching Face the Nation this morning both Senators John McCain and Chuck Schumer were on discussing immigration reform. They are part of the "gang of eight" which is trying to come up with Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

During the discussion it was said that they would be doing things differently. When the gang of eight puts together their compromise and can agree on it, they will send it to committee for markup. This means the members of the committee will then chop up whatever the gang of eight comes up with and once agreed in committee it would be sent to the Senate floor.

Apparently, they have an agreement with Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, where amendments will be allowed. The bill will then be up for amendments and each amendment will be debated until debate is shut down and the full Senate will vote on the bill.

The host of the program also asked about Senator Ted Cruz' threat to filibuster it if it comes to the floor in an attempt to shut down debate and kill the bill.

When you watch the Senate at work on C-Span, you see a Senator standing up and giving his speech on whatever the topic is at the moment. They rarely show anyone else on the screen and usually when they do, it's the staff of the speaking Senator, or it's the President (or his appointed representative by the majority party leader, again, Harry Reid). You rarely, if ever, see other Senators until just before the current Senator speaking, winds up his remarks and the next one is about to take over.

In other words, in the United States Senate, the chamber is open, but nobody is listening. It's not debate, it's a place for speeches. Nobody's mind is being changed because nobody is there. Nobody is taking apart arguments because nobody is there. Nobody is debating because they've made up their minds before debate ever begins and those decisions are made by party, not by the individual and certainly not be a Senator that is acting on the wishes of his/her constituents. They decide by party and by polls.

On the other hand, filibusters are noticed. A filibuster is when a Senator will get up and start speaking and not relinquish the floor to anyone that could break or would break the filibuster. This makes news. This is what's noticed.

Several weeks ago, Senator Paul mounted a filibuster. The news was not the topic. I'll bet most don't remember that it was about the use of drones on Americans. But the fact that Senator Paul controlled the floor for some 11 hours. This doesn't happen any longer. The way they conduct a filibuster now is they shut down debate under threat of a real filibuster.

Is it any wonder why we don't trust our elected officials any longer? They don't do things honestly. They don't even believe that other Senators are really voting correctly because they go out in the press and tell the press that the "extremists" or the "Tea Party Extremists" are controlling them.

If you are of a different mindset, you're attacked as being extreme or under the control of someone.

The American people form their opinions and state them. The United States Senate, and even the House and the White House wait until the polls come out to tell them what they believe in.

Immigration reform will not be debated. It will be amended. The amendments will have nothing to do with immigration reform. At least not all of them. Someone will stick a study as an amendment to the bill that will create a study to see how high flies can fly, or frogs can jump.

Our government is out of touch with reality.

You're welcome to comment.


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