What Ramifications will the GOP Filibuster on Iraq Bring?

On the front page of The Washington Post Wednesday, Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray report that Senate Republicans' hard edged tactics on Iraq -- taking the nearly unprecedented step of threatening to filibuster any amendment that would help bring an end to the war -- could backfire.

Facing crumbling support for the war among their own members, Senate Republican leaders yesterday sought to block bipartisan efforts to force a change in the American military mission in Iraq.

But the GOP leadership's use of a parliamentary tactic requiring at least 60 votes to pass any war legislation only encouraged the growing number of Republican dissenters to rally and seek new ways to force President Bush's hand. They are weighing a series of new proposals that would change the troops' mission from combat to counterterrorism, border protection and the training of Iraqi security forces.

"I think we should continue to ratchet up the pressure -- in addition to our words -- to let the White House know we are very sincere," said Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), who broke with the president last month.

In some respects it's easy to see how heavy handed tactics by Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership in the Senate could begin to turn off some members -- and not only the handful who are beginning to become cognizant of the fact that they are going to have a heck of a time trying to run for reelection in 2008. For a wavering member, a with us or against us, all or nothing ultimatum on Iraq could actually expedite a move into the anti-war position.

That said, read the article more closely and you can see that these perceived negative consequences for the pro-war Republicans might not be all that they are cracked up to be. Neither in the article nor in other reporting has there been much of an indication that Senators like George Voinovich -- or John Warner or Pete Domenici or Susan Collins or Richard Lugar or almost any of them on the Republican side of the aisle -- have a willingness to do what it takes to bring forward an end to the Iraq War. Sure, they'd be willing to support the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group -- recommendations that might have made a difference had they been implemented last year when they were released but today would do little to either improve the situation on the ground in Iraq or help move us closer to an end to the war -- but they remain unwilling to support legislation that would actually mandate the draw down of forces from Iraq with the goal of ending U.S. military involvement any time before the end of the Bush presidency.

Atrios put it well last week when he wrote,

[T]rying to change our Iraq policy involves more than just getting behind some piece of legislation or another which is unlikely to pass. It involves a willingness to get behind just about anything that forces a change in policy, even if you're not fully on board with those things because you consider them to be better than the status quo of "staying the course" to preserve the fragile ego of the idiot manchild.

I see little to no indication that the handful of Republican Senators mentioned above who are reportedly wavering on the issue of Iraq will actually go forward and take the steps necessary to end the war -- let alone the 17 Republican Senators that it would take to overturn a presidential veto. So while there may be some negative ramifications for pro-war Senate Republicans as a result of their obstructionist tactics on Iraq, they will likely be limited to the sphere of of public opinion, which, however potentially impactful on the 2008 elections, will not likely hasten an end to the war.

Tags: 110th congress, Iraq, Obstructionism, Republicans (all tags)




I understand your skepticism but I have a sneaking feeling that come next Labor Day 2008 US troops will be coming home and the one issue that has most buoyed Democratic chances in the 2008 elections will start to fade.

by True Independent 2007-07-10 10:54PM | 0 recs

If we play this right as a party (and I am not at all convinced that we are capable of it cuz I've yet to see any evidence), the GOP will fall into a trap and go down with the Bush/Cheney Titanic.  This filibuster shit could trun into something so egregious that, instead of ushering a D president and further gains in the House and Senate, it could result in a major realignment and a Democratic domination of national politics for a generation.

That's the only silver lining to this whole thing.

by jgarcia 2007-07-10 11:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Trap

Nice tag line J.  I was afraid I was losing you back to the Hillary crowd again.  

by Winston Smith 2007-07-11 12:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Trap


notice how this site has changed?  Everyone seems to be doing nothing but shilling for a candidate.  Even putting up talking points (the talking points annoys me more, though, because it implies the reader is stupid and/or uninformed).

I doubt I'll go back to Hill.  I want change.  BIG change.

Btw, where you been?  I enjoy your posts but I haven't seen many lately.

by jgarcia 2007-07-11 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Trap

Well JG, I missed the 03 Dean v Clark blog fights, so I am not sure if this happens for every primary, but I can tell you that the constant Edwards v Obama partisan games of one-upmanship are very tiresome.  

I lean to Obama, but I think Jerome is very fair in his analysis, and it kinda pisses me off when the Obama crowd are always accusing him of being partisan.  Maybe I just dont care enough to have an opinion.  Either way, the game is over when Gore is drafted, making everyone else an "also ran."

I havent been too chatty, but I read everyday.  When you announced your contribution to Hillary, I was really tempted to ride you about it.  LOL.  After our '05 Hillary fight, and your subsequent conversion, the thought of a re-conversion back to Hillary made me laugh.  

In other news, it looks like Mr Stoller is no longer around to perpetually threaten us with MyDD banishment.  LOL..

by Winston Smith 2007-07-11 09:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Trap

sorry to repsond to late, my made in china modem that is designed to last only two years went down (comcast).

I must admit that people here and on other sites actually makes me contribute sometimes, because of their mouths, lol.

I have given to Edwards and HRC.  I have an Edwards "rainbow" sticker AND a Hillary sticker on my truck.  I am so split-personality.  I plan on writing a diary on the Hillary conundrum and how Bill's presidency was both squandered AND blocked by his own party (and that's why he never gave a shit about the party) in my first diary.  I'm busy, but a friend of mine said I should write what I ha argued about the Clinton admin.

The Edwards-Obama flame war is silly.  But it's also pretty entertaining.  The Dems LOVE to eat their own young...always have.  Perhaps that's kinda why I like the party.

I read every day as well, but don't write as much as the others.  As far as Stoller, yeah, he has issues...a lot of them, but he's got a fire that i like and, admittedly, am drawn to.  I like firery streaks and brass balls.

by jgarcia 2007-07-12 02:46PM | 0 recs
I agree with you

That is why I think it is important to keep the pressure on Bush and the GOP members of COngress.  Make them own the war.  They started, they embraced, they beat Democrats over the head with it in '02(in the run up) and '04.   Time to prove what comes around goes around.

My fear is that many on the left would rather form circular firing squads and attack Democrats instead of Republicans.

by dpANDREWS 2007-07-11 04:36AM | 0 recs
Re: What Ramifications will the GOP Filibuster on

If it was up to me I would start a Democratic Filibuster. All Iraq All the Time. If the Democrats actually stood up as representatives of the American people and did what they were elected to do I think you might find the republicans running for cover rather than making these obstructionist threats.

What we need to do is put all the ideas on the table and debate this crap non-stop in front of the American people until even complete deaf assholes like Bush hear the message.

I tire of a hapless Democratic leadership (Reid/Durbin) that will not confront and expose these Neocon warmongering obstructionists. Enough of the playing nice with Neocons channel. Mitch McConnell is an asshole. And up until now he has proven that being as asshole can stop the Democratic leadership from doing the will of the America people. Where are our leaders?

by DoIT 2007-07-11 02:10AM | 0 recs
Re: What Ramifications will the GOP Filibuster on

I wonder if it's a better strategy to push a change in course and an end to the war through legislation that can be filibustered or through budget bills that can't be. Budget bills will pass, but Bush will veto them - then Bush is in the news. Filibusters put Senate Rs in the news, and make them defend their votes back home.

Hopefully Reid's strategy is to use overcoming the fillibuster as a way to get Rs voting to end the war and then pivot to the budget bills that will actually bring the troops home.

by SteveWFP 2007-07-11 05:00AM | 0 recs
Re: What Ramifications will the GOP Filibuster on

I'm at the point now where we need to just down most of the senate business.  All the money scheduled to go to their districts or states... DONE.  Anything NOT vitally imminent to the running of the country OR investigating the Bushies and it isn't done until there is an Up and Down vote.

by yitbos96bb 2007-07-11 05:56AM | 0 recs
Re: What Ramifications will the GOP Filibuster on

Republican obstructionism, through the Senate filibuster, has kept withdrawl from occurring. Looking at the big picture, what Democrats need to do after the 08 elections is reduce or eliminate the filibuster as a Senate perogative.

At a minimum, it should be reduced to 55 votes to override. Such action would also allow serious social legislation, ie. health care, union rights, worker safety, etc. to have a much better chance of  passing. The filibuster has been the major source of Repub obstructionism the past 50 years. When they're in power, they threaten to negate it in areas such as court appointments. The Democrats should learn from the Repubs.

by carter1 2007-07-11 06:16AM | 0 recs

The trick to keeping the GOP from blocking cloture on every piece of legislation that the Dems have the votes to pass, is to impose a cost on them for doing so.  That cost is to make them filibuster.

Once again, the underlying rule of the Senate: when debate on a bill ceases, a vote is held.  Cloture is simply a way of forcing a vote even if a few holdouts want to keep debating, short-circuiting the underlying rule.  Blocking cloture simply means that the underlying rule is still in effect - in other words, the party that blocks cloture has to keep on talking to prevent a vote, as long as the bill is on the floor.

So the Dems' proper course of action is to keep the damned bill on the floor after a failed cloture vote, forcing the GOP to talk talk talk.

This imposes two costs on the GOP: first, it costs them in terms of time and hassle.  They've got to stay on the Senate floor and actually filibuster.  The second cost is in PR: since C-SPAN covers the Congress when in session, everyone can see the GOP filibustering unpopular legislation for hours, and possibly days, on end.  And the more visible their obstruction is, the worse it will likely be for them at election time.

When the good guys are in the minority, filibustering works for us.  When a majority tries to shove unpopular legislation down the minority's throats, filibustering puts on display the willingness of the minority to stand up for the voters in the face of superior force.

In short, if the people are on your side, you've got nothing to fear from a filibuster, no matter which side of it you're on.  But if the people are against you, a filibuster is bad news, no matter whether you're in the majority or in the minority.

So I think the rules are fine; the problem is the Dems' failure to utilize their advantages.

by RT 2007-07-11 06:36AM | 0 recs

it's exactly why people are PO'ed at Reid

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-07-11 07:19AM | 0 recs

That is exactly why the Democrats should be the one's filibustering, discussing nothing else. Read the list of the soldiers fallen. Invite their families to testify.

Make it an Iraqathon.

by DoIT 2007-07-11 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: What Ramifications will the GOP Filibuster on

To make explicit what most of the posters have touched on, the threatened Republican filibuster could be a godsend for Democrats. The public's approval of the Democratic Congress has plummeted. Why? Because the Democrats don't seem to be getting anything important passed.

It takes 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate. Few Americans know that. They just know that Democrats are in the majority in both chambers.

Let the Republicans filibuster, and educate the people that it's not Democrats who are preventing passage of the legislation the Democrats told the people they would enact.

by anoregonreader 2007-07-11 08:14AM | 0 recs
GOP will lose BIG in '08

If Democrats stay unified and pee inside the tent instead of in, then win BIG in '08.


by dpANDREWS 2007-07-11 08:45AM | 0 recs
Uhm ...

Phone call threw me.  Make that if we pee outside the tent instead of in.

by dpANDREWS 2007-07-11 08:46AM | 0 recs


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