Americans elected a new Congress to get things done. But the conservative minority has chosen a strategy of obstruction in the Senate. They have used the threat of a filibuster to delay or block virtually every major initiative.
Bills with majority support -- raising the minimum wage, ethics reform, a date to remove troops from Iraq, revoking oil subsidies and putting the money into renewable energy, fulfilling the 9/11 commission recommendations on homeland security--get blocked because they can't garner 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
In its first 40 hours, the new majority of the House of Representatives kept their promise to voters and passed legislation -- increasing the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, empowering Medicare to negotiate lower prices on drugs, cutting interest rates on student loans in half, revoking big oil subsidies and using the money to invest in renewable energy -- that provided a down payment for a new direction for this country.
These bills are overwhelmingly popular, and are simply common sense reforms. Yet every one of them -- and many more -- got held up in the U.S. Senate.
Conservatives boast about the "success" of their strategy in discrediting the new majority. As Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., put it, "the strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it's working for us."
How is it working? It's dragging the reputation of the Congress down to the level of the failed president. Conservatives lie in the road of progress and then complain that nothing is moving.
This values partisan posturing over reforms vital to the country. It must be challenged.
It's time to take the gloves off.
The first step is to expose the obstruction to the American people. Let's urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to force a real filibuster. Keep the bills on the floor and force vote after vote, exposing the obstructionists. We'll organize in states across the country to insure that their constituents know exactly who is standing in the way of progress.
Campaign for America's Future has created a petition to Reid, urging him to expose the obstructionists. Please join the petition. Let's insure that Americans are clear on who is pushing for change and who is standing in the way.
Robert Borosage is co-director of Campaign for America's Future.