My post on partisanship drew a couple of responses that obstructionism in the 110th and 111th Congress’ was the fault of the Republicans. Our friend Drugsandotherthings asserted the liberal line that the Republicans used the filibuster more than ever in the history of the planet Earth to shut down the political process – since the filibuster can only occur in the Senate, lets take a look at a few things related to the Senate, shall we?
First, the filibuster accusation is a myth, debunked by none other than a Congressional Research Service report which I cited in the comments, saying:
Filibusters could have been overridden with the votes that they had. Filibusters are also created by Senate rules – and rules can be changed. It’s not like they are permanent but as this Reason magazine article notes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was for them before he was against them and the 60 vote “supermajority” was a creation of the Democrats to prevent the Republicans passing their agenda during Republican control from 1994 to 2006.
As far as your assertion for the increase in filibusters, that is wrong according to a study by the Congressional Research Service, which said that In the 2007–08 session of Congress, there were 112 cloture votes and some have used this number to argue an increase in the number of filibusters occurring in recent times. However, the Senate leadership has increasingly utilized cloture as a routine tool to manage the flow of business, even in the absence of any apparent filibuster. For these reasons, the presence or absence of cloture attempts cannot be taken as a reliable guide to the presence or absence of a filibuster. Inasmuch as filibustering does not depend on the use of any specific rules, whether a filibuster is present is always a matter of judgment.
As for the actual makeup of the Congress, we have this:
110th Congress: Senate – 49R/49D, the two independent members of the Senate chose to caucus with the Democratic Party and thus are considered to be a part of the majority. The two Senators? Bernie Sanders, the only openly avowed socialist and Joe Lieberman. House – 236D/199R. 111th: Senate 58D/40R or 56D/42R depending on when you counted it and still the same two “independents” who caucused with the Democrats.
And how did they vote?
Co-blogger melfamy helpfully translated Drugboy for me:
What drugs is saying is that the Majority of the members of the Senate weren’t liberal, nor did liberals have an unbreakable, disciplined, cadre of true believers who would vote in lock-step on every motion, as do the Republicans.
Well, that racist, right wing Republican rag, the Washington Post, chronicles that voting pattern for us by laying out the percentages of times the members of the Senate voted along party lines. I’m not going to post the screen shots of the charts because they are way too large but you can find it all here. In the 111th Congress, the Democrats voted a party line vote a total of 94% of the time – the two “independents” Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist, and Joe Lieberman voted with the Democrats 94% and 90% of the time, respectively. The Republicans? Their average of party line voting was 85%. Those numbers in the 110th Congress were Democrat – 93% and Republican – 83%.
While the vote percentages do denote a high degree of partisanship, what can be gleaned from this is that the Republicans are more likely to vote across the aisle than the democrats by an average of 10 percentage points.
Remember that the Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress in the 110th and 111th
So tell me again who the real partisans are?