The 111th Congress was practically defined by Republicans who turned an extraordinary measure–the filibuster–into a routine tool of obstruction. GOP senators invoked holds and filibusters on virtually everything that came from Senate Democrats, resulting in a session that saw more filibusters than any previous session in history. This nifty graph is illustrative:
Democrats aren’t blameless, but their use of the filibuster pales in comparison to Republican abuse, which made 60 votes a de facto requirement for the passage of any legislation. This is obvious to anyone who looks at the last two years of congressional action—Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, for example, have been excoriating Republicans for filibuster abuse for the past four years. Regardless, false equivalence continues to reign in congressional coverage. Here’s Politico’s Manu Raju, who seems to have missed 2006 to 2010:
It takes 60 votes — and time-consuming cloture motions — to overcome a filibuster, a tool that has been employed with growing frequency by both parties over the years.
At this point, I’m honestly unsure of what will convince reporters to cease the constant equivalence between the two parties. Democrats aren’t angels, of course, but the Republican Party has embarked on a crusade against the norms that govern conduct in the Senate. It’s totalistic approach to politics is responsible for congressional dysfunction, and placing blame on both sides only makes the problem harder to solve.