Monday, July 15, 2013

JULY 12, 2013

     I remember once, when I was fairly new here in Washington, hearing then Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, tell a colleague, in a stage whisper you could have heard half a mile away, "Caleb, change your vote!"  Caleb, a Republican, did.  The bill passed and life went on. The Congress worked faily well then.  It works less well now, and is contemplating some changes which could make things even worse.

     Senate majority leader Harry Reid has said he'll try to get rid of the filibuster, the Senate rule which allows one senator, or a few, to talk and talk and
well, you get the idea. Southern segregationist senators filibustered the 1964 civil rights bill, which changed the country greatly for the better, for something like two months.  Eventually it passed.  Good happened.

     The House this week passed a farm
bill which contained no money for food stamps. You can argue about the food stamp program but there's no doubt a lot of people need it. The Republicans' opposition to it was based more on politics than on merit. If they like the result, we'll see more of it.

     I remember
Everett Dirksen, back during that 1960s civil rights debate, shutting down that filibuster, quoting Goethe, "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Partisan warfare based on parliamentary rules, though, can make you wonder about that.

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