Bernie Sanders didn't pull any punches in describing GOP Senators and their "obstructionism:"
"In a time of disfunctionality in the Senate, and all kinds of absurdity, this probably takes the cake when you filibuster your own" bill, the self-described "democratic socialist" lawmaker told MSNBC's Ed Schultz Friday evening. "The American people want action and it is undemocratic, it is unAmerican when a small minority can deny the majority from going forward."
Sanders made the remarks after McConnell on Thursday called for a vote on legislation giving President Obama unilateral power to increase the nation's borrowing limit, the so-called debt ceiling. McConnell had hoped to demonstrate that Republicans and Democrats alike oppose what he described as a "power grab" by the president, but he was forced to object to a simple majority vote after Democrats agreed to move forward.
Democrats said it may have been the first time that the minority in the Senate blocked one of its own bills from moving forward. The Senate did not end up voting on the measure, which would have required 60 votes to move forward after McConnell objected.
"I certainly hope we will succeed with very serious filibuster reform, because if we don't, we're going to continue to be tied up in knots," Sanders said. "Look, the Senate is not the House, and we want to create a situation where the minority, whether it's Republican, Democrat, whatever, has the right to explain to the American people why they feel the way they feel. That is ... important.
"On the other hand, the majority in this country has the right to rule, has the right to make decisions. Obama won a huge victory. We won 25 out of 33 elections in the Senate. We won seats in the House."
The only weapon the miniority has in the Senate is the filibuster. Both sides have abused it over the years, but the Democrats hardly hold any high ground when it comes to its overuse.
It depends on exactly what kind of reforms Harry Reid is seeking, but some change is probably necessary. Given the partisan atmosphere currently in vogue, holding up legislation for purely partisan reasons should be discouraged. This wouldn't apply to most bills the GOP has filibustered, but the McConnell debacle is a perfect example of where reform is needed.