When 74% isn't a Landslide: Do Enzi, Grassley, and Hatch oppose civil rights?
by Nathan Empsall, Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:37:26 PM EDT
Adapted from Blue Moose Democrat.
Key Republican Senators Charles Grassley, Mike Enzi, and Orrin Hatch have all said that the health care bill needs to have between 75 and 80 Senate votes. Grassley has even gone so far as to make it clear that no matter how much he likes the final bill, he won't bother thinking for himself or for his constituents; he'll only vote for it if a large number of his Senate Republican colleagues do, as well.
75 votes is an absurd threshold. When a president wins election with 60% of the vote, we call it a landslide, and yet when "just" 60% of our elected representatives vote for a bill, we're supposed to consider it partisan? It gets even more absurd when one considers that the original Senators, some of our founding fathers, set up a system where a bare majority rules. The filibuster has since increased that to 60%.
Yet as horrible as they said it was back when they were threatening the "nuclear option," the filibuster just isn't enough for these three Republicans anymore. I think a bill with 75 votes would be a wonderful thing for political unity in this country, but it's just not going to happen. Most Senate Republicans, from Jim DeMint to Jon Kyl, have made it clear that they won't support any sort of reform. Should we give up because our majority is merely a big one rather than a huge one? Of course not! That wasn't the threshold when Republicans were in charge, and it is not the threshold now.
That fact got me thinking: are these three Senators willing to renege on their support for any current laws that received less than 75 votes? Or even more drastically, would they say such laws are invalid? As Howard Dean said on Maddow last night, "I think we probably should have had 80 votes to go to war in Iraq, too." Here, then, is a list of five laws that passed with less than 75% Congressional support:
- The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote passed the Senate 56-25, which today would be the equivalent of 69 Senators, six less than Grassley wants. Does that mean he thinks women shouldn't vote? Is he willing to say so about our efforts to promote democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq?
- The 21st Amendment to the Constitution, which repealed Prohibition passed on a vote of 63-21. That means just 71.4% of Senators supported it. Would Mike Enzi like to see prohibition reinstated?
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed the Senate on a vote of 73-27, two shy of the new benchmark. Does this mean Orrin Hatch wants to repeal civil rights?
- The Iraq War, ie, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, did receive 77 votes in the Senate. In the House, however, it only received 297 votes, or 68.3% support, 6.7% less than Republican negotiators now demand. Does this mean they are willing to start opposing the war?
- Medicare Part D, ie, 2003's Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, passed the Senate 54-44. Hatch, Enzi, and Grassley all voted aye - are they willing to admit they were wrong and should have held out for 21-26 more votes?