Saturday, February 06, 2010

Shelby's Stand

Senator Shelby of Alabama has just put on hold all outstanding Executive Branch nominations until the Senate gives him two big pork-barrel earmarks for his state. Getting his own, he is, as are these two big donors to his campaigns.

Republicans have the ability to filibuster any bill. In a minority, they lately threaten to filibuster every bill. Some bills, like the final health reform bill, will never please them.

A Senator can put a nomination on hold to ensure that questions about the nominee are resolved before granting them the job. By upping the ante and blocking all nominations, Shelby blocks government itself until he gets his way. Usually, government doesn't like that approach.

Senator Shelby's use of the rules to coerce the Senate for personal gain may force the changing of Senate rules. By raising the stakes, he risks losing his game.

Those who want to get things done without perpetual fear of filibuster are already pressuring for the Senate to open under new rules. Shelby makes this more likely.


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