Who are the obstructionists now? For nearly five years, Democrats in Congress denounced the GOP as "the party of no" for routinely using the Senate's filibuster rule to block legislation and presidential nominations from passing with a simple majority vote. On Tuesday, it was the Democrats' turn to stand in the way.
All 46 senators in the new minority joined together to oppose a $40 billion House Republican spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security that sought to reverse President Obama's unilateral move to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The measure received 51 votes, but that was well short of the 60 it needed to be eligible for debate in the Senate. Republicans have vowed to try again, but it's clear they will have to come up with another way to fund the department before a February 27th deadline.
It was an interesting tactical move for Democrats. They could have allowed the bill to pass, since it would have faced a certain veto from President Obama. Harry Reid, the majority-leader-turned-minority-leader, has said he doesn't want to mimic the obstructionism of Republicans that so frustrated him when he ran the Senate. Standing down on the homeland security bill would have been one way of showing that, but Democrats also knew that allowing Republicans to spend a week or two to debate and pass it could waste precious time before the department's funding expires. And keeping the bill mired in the Senate's procedural muck makes life more difficult for Mitch McConnell, the new majority leader, who would relish the chance to blame an Obama veto for the bill's failure rather than arcane voting rules. this way, the burden for finding a workable solution still resides with Republicans.