Senate Legislation Blocked Constantly By Obscure Political Maneuvers

The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported last year on the aggressive tactics Republican senators were using to obstruct an unprecedented number of bills from being passed. However, with the 2008 election nearing, and the possibility for Democrats to consolidate real control of the Senate, both parties are increasing their use of obscure parliamentary procedures to derail legislation. The process has become so acrimonious that legislation cannot be passed "even when there is broad agreement about what to do":

Take the housing rescue bill that collapsed this week: On a test vote, 83 senators supported provisions intended to halt the steepest slide in home prices in a generation. Still, the measure stalled, undone by a dispute over whether to add tax breaks for renewable energy production, an idea supported by 88 senators.

Lawmakers, lobbyists and independent analysts say that bill and other major legislation have been derailed by political maneuvering for an election likely to consolidate Democratic control over Congress and in which the sputtering economy tops the agenda. With each side using the Senate's byzantine rules to gain advantage, work in the upper chamber, always balky, has ground to a halt.

Senate Democrats accuse Republicans of adopting intransigence as a strategy to produce a "do-nothing" Congress. Senate Republicans acknowledge using delay tactics but say they are reacting to a heavy-handed Democratic majority that has denied them a voice on the Senate floor.

Read the full report from the Washington Post.