Friday, December 24, 2010

Harry Reid joins a Republican Filibuster

(2/18/13: This editorial is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of Senate rules. Here is my correction. Other than this parenthetical, this post is unaltered.)

On Wednesday, December 22, a miracle occurred. After months of impasse, Congress finally passed the bill which covers the health care costs for 9/11 first responders. The endorsement of various liberal pundits helped put pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill which was many years overdue. However, there was one omission which was rather striking.

The final hurdle the bill had to overcome was the senate filibuster. Republicans decided to filibuster everything until they were sure that the Bush tax cuts would be renewed for all income levels. That included blocking the progress of the 9/11 first responders bill. Specifically, the senate held a vote on December 9th on whether to override the filibuster and proceed to vote on the bill. In order to break the filibuster, they needed 60 votes. They received 57. The vote was almost straight down party lines. All republicans present (Brownback was back home in Kansas preparing to become our state's next governor) voted against overturning the filibuster. They voted to delay health care reimbursements to 9/11 first responders. Every democrat voted for overturning the filibuster, except for one, Harry Reid. That's right, the head of the Democratic party in the Senate broke ranks to vote against overturning a Republican filibuster. I found this fact so shocking that I had to find a second source before I could believe it.

The problem is, no one reported this. Not Jon Stewart, not Rachel Maddow, not The New York Times. In fact, the only news outlet that has mentioned this fact is Media Matters, who said that he changed his vote to a no for procedural reasons. What procedural issue could be so important as providing health care to 9/11 first responders? Moreover, why would the leader of our party join the opposing party's filibuster on anything?

Nevertheless, all of these sources did a better job than fox's opinion programming, which first ignored and then defended the republican filibuster. As always, Shepard Smith bucked the larger talking heads to support the bill that should have been a no-brainer.

What does this episode in the American media teach us? We must be able to do our own research so that we can know what our sources are leaving out.

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