+10 to Obstructionism, -10 to Accountability.

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This is a pretty good illustration of the problems a routine super majority requirement creates for democratic accountability:

Ailing 9/11 responders slammed President Obama on Tuesday for sounding off on the Ground Zero mosque while keeping silent on a $7.2 billion health care bill.

"Why have you failed us? We thought you would be our champion" in pushing the legislation, John Feal wrote to Obama. […]

The Zadroga bill failed to muster a necessary two-thirds vote last month. GOP opponents called it a money grab by New York and said it would raise taxes.

Of course, the president hasn't actually failed the 9/11 responders; Obama supports the bill, as does Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and a majority of members in the House and Senate. But, because Senate rules allow 41 senators to impose a supermajority requirement on every stage of the voting process, a majority of Democrats are unable to move the bill to the president's desk. But John Feal doesn't see this, and therein lies the genius of the GOP's categorical opposition to Democratic legislation; the filibuster inverts responsibility, and allows the minority to conceal its obstruction.

It's also worth noting that the supermajority norm has crept into our discourse; Democrats are responsible for mustering a two-thirds vote, while Republicans escape blame for imposing a filibuster. And to media outlets like the Daily News, the supermajority requirement is a routine part of legislating, and not an unprecedented abuse of Senate rules.

Update: It seems that the bill failed in the House, not the Senate, as Democrats introduced the measure as a "suspension bill" requiring a two-thirds majority. But, since nearly every Republican voted against it, blaming them is still appropriate.

-- Jamelle Bouie


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