Tag Archives: filibuster

7/29/10 Press Release: “Lutz slams Filibuster of $30B Bill for Small Business”


Lutz for Congress 2010


Media Contact: Brennan Purtzer, Media Director

619-447-3246 / [email protected]


Lutz slams Filibuster of $30B Bill for Small Business



SAN DIEGO COUNTY (July 29, 2010) – “This is destructive and intentional: I’m telling you all – it’s sabotage,” said Ray Lutz, the Democratic Challenger to California’s 52nd Congressional Seat (East San Diego County). Lutz was responding to Senate Republicans who filibustered a bill that would create a $30 billion lending fund for small businesses.

“These clowns are working against America, fighting a bill to help the small business fabric of America, the workhorse of job creation,” Lutz said. “While they cater to their Wall Street masters, they are shirking their fiduciary duty to work FOR America. Republicans are hoping the recession “double-dips” before November, so they can ‘win.’ The fact that our political system produces officials who actively work against our economy shows us that the system is truly broken.”

Lutz has proposed a green energy plan that would create 1.5 million jobs and cure the nation’s dependency on foreign oil, pushing for solar and biofuel development in a modern “war on energy.” “We have plenty of work to do, plenty of jobs in our new green economy, but we need to embrace the future and move away from our broken past. My opponent, Duncan D. Hunter, is part of that past and part of the ‘just say no’ Republican Party that is betting against our country.”

The Lutz campaign has a VIP and fundraiser event tomorrow, Friday, July 30, 4-7p.m., in San Diego’s Gaslamp District at the Tequila 100 Bar & Grill, 756 Fifth Ave. Everyone is invited.

Donations to Ray Lutz’ campaign can be made at:


Ref: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38…

Senate Filibusters

I read Lindsey Graham saying there’s no chance for 60 votes to pass climate change legislation.   People have written in support of the filibuster, because it protects the minority party, but the problem is the Democrats rarely have the cajones to use it, and the Republicans do it as standard procedure.

Besides, it’s unconstitutional:  I looked and found this in Article I, Section 5:

Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business;

Last time I looked, “majority” mean 50% plus 1.  The filibuster blatantly contradicts this, not to mention personal holds.

Someone should suit the Senate and force them to abide by the constitution.   Who has standing for such a lawsuit?

2009: The Year Change Fell Prey to Backroom Deals

“I’m going to have all the [health care] negotiations around a big table.  And it will be televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.” – Barack Obama, 2008

2008 was the Year of Change – when voters ushered in a new progressive era.  But a year later, health care has been hijacked by extortionists – just so we can “cut a deal” to get 60 U.S. Senators.  In Sacramento, a back-room state budget deal likewise sold progressives down the river.  And in San Francisco, the City and Muni budgets were also made behind closed doors – letting the powerful still call the shots.  We can’t elect candidates who promise “change” – unless it also comes with a public and transparent decision-making process.

What’s Killing Health Care Reform?

Barack Obama always said “change” would only come if we demand it.  His campaign was inspiring because he said it was more than about himself.  Like FDR told activists in 1933 to “make me do it,” Obama would keep his volunteers engaged after the election – and would mobilize the base to help him, and make him pass a successful progressive agenda.

But we never had those health care negotiations on C-SPAN.  If we’d had, the grassroots could have followed what was going on and played a meaningful role.  Instead, Obama ignored the lessons of community organizing by letting the process play itself out the old Washington way – behind closed doors, where private insurance lobbyists have undue influence.

I don’t recall how or when single-payer was taken “off the table” – except that Senator Max Baucus said it was.  Without single payer, progressives focused on the public option – which although a compromise, could have held insurance companies accountable.  Everyone knew it was tough and compromise would happen, but we were supposed to be part of that decision.

And there was no way for the grassroots to remain engaged in an effective way – because none of the details of “compromise” were vetted in a public forum.  We instead had to rely on unsourced rumors in the news and blogs about whether the public option was still alive.  Now that it’s dead, we don’t know who killed it – because it was all done behind closed doors.

Consider what Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle back in January 2008 before the California primary.  After promising to put health care talks on C-SPAN, he explained that it “builds accountability in the system.  Now that Congressman is put on the spot.  I would not underestimate the degree to which shame is a healthy emotion, and that you can shame Congress into doing the right thing if people know what’s going on.”

Instead, Max Baucus wasted everyone’s time by drafting a “bi-partisan compromise” that even the Republican Senators he handpicked opposed.  Then, Harry Reid convened a “Gang of Ten” Democrats (5 progressives and 5 conservatives) to craft something that could get 60 votes.  That’s how we got the Medicare compromise, but Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson – who were in the Gang of Ten – backstabbed everyone by opposing it.  Incredibly, the White House then pressured Reid to cave into Lieberman’s tantrum.

What should they have done?  Call their bluff.  Over 51 Senate Democrats support the public option, so bring it to the Senate floor – and force Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln to filibuster it in broad daylight with Republicans.  Let the public see who’s obstructing change, and who should be blamed for it.  As long as Reid remains obsessed with getting 60 votes, these “Democrats” evade the responsibility of ever having to cast a “no” vote.  And of course, the insurance companies laugh all the way to the bank.

Sacramento: Two-Thirds Rule Leads to Faustian Bargains

We all know the problem in Sacramento.  California is a very blue state – so Democrats have permanent control of the legislature, but not enough to have the two-thirds required to pass a budget.  So the Republicans (who are more right-wing than Republicans in any other state) hold the budget hostage by refusing to vote for a single tax increase, even if the state has to make unconscionable budget cuts.  They have nothing to lose, and don’t get held accountable – because they are “the minority party” so don’t run the legislature.

But Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t help things, and inevitably the budget gets crafted by the “Big Five” – an extra-legal group that includes the Governor, Assembly Speaker, State Senate President and Minority Leaders in each house.  Democrats are outnumbered three-to-two, and none of their meetings are public.  Republicans won’t support any taxes at all, and don’t care if the state falls off a cliff.  As a result, we get the kind of budget that gets worse every year – and we don’t know why particular concessions were made.

Even worse, Democrats consistently get the blame – because virtually every legislator feels compelled to vote for the budget.  Meanwhile, most Republicans still vote “no.”

San Francisco: Supes Got Played Behind Closed Doors

I spent a lot of time this year at City Hall on budget matters – and nothing convinced me more about the folly of back-room deals.  Progressives have a majority on the Board of Supervisors, and if they stick together – while building bridges with “swing votes” like Sophie Maxwell and Bevan Dufty – can challenge a Mayor who has been disengaged, unwilling to work with progressives and dead-wrong on the City’s budget priorities.

Board President David Chiu’s performance at the May 6th Budget & Finance Committee was admirable, and showed the value of public meetings.  After grilling MTA Chief Nat Ford about the Muni budget, he made it clear that the Supervisors had seven votes to stop fare hikes and service cuts.  The mistake he made was to think the Mayor would negotiate in good faith.

One week later, the hope and promise that came out of that meeting was gone – with a backroom deal that barely improved the awful MTA budget.  Newsom got Chiu to go along based on a manufactured threat, and it didn’t help that Chiu was the lone progressive negotiating in the room.  John Avalos tried to salvage the situation, but by then it was too late.  An agreement had been reached.

When the Board tackled the City budget in June – combing through Mayor Newsom’s awful proposal – I expected the Supervisors to make substantive changes at the Budget Committee, using the spotlight of a public meeting to amend the budget.  And for a while, they were on the right track by taking the symbolic (but unprecedented) step of tinkering with the Interim Budget.  But with notable exceptions, little was changed in those Committee meetings to the Mayor’s proposal.

On July 1st, John Avalos and David Chiu concluded marathon budget negotiations with the Mayor’s Office – all behind closed doors.  The Budget Committee even started 10½ hours past schedule, because everyone was waiting for the deal.  When we learned all the details, it fell short of where we should have been.  Crucial programs were saved, but the Mayor’s Office still had five press secretaries – although a majority of Supervisors would surely vote to cut them.  But rather than do just that in a public meeting, it died a quiet death in Room 200.

It’s hard being a progressive – at the federal, state or local level – because you’re always fighting.  You were elected to bring social change, but our system of government allows the powerful to maintain a status quo.  That’s why it’s so important to push for an open and transparent process – to maximize public accountability when politicians undercut change.  If these decisions and votes are made out of the open, progressive officials can get more help from the media and grassroots activists to achieve the change that we need.

2008 was the Year of Change, when America elected Barack Obama and expanded the Democratic majorities in Congress.  We did not elect Olympia Snowe, Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson (none of whom were elected last year) to dictate our health care policy.  

California is a deep blue state, but we allow right-wing politicians who act more like Teabaggers than public servants to decide our budget.  And San Franciscans last year voted to keep a progressive Board of Supervisors, not to let the Mayor undercut them.

But when deals are made behind closed doors, progressives lose the levers of influence.  2009 was the year that backroom deals sank change.  In 2010, it’s time to let the sun shine in.

Paul Hogarth is the Managing Editor of Beyond Chron, San Francisco’s Alternative Online Daily, where this piece was first published.

We’re Making Them Filibuster

So there is going to be a reconvening of the State Senate today at 10am.  I know, that’s what they said yesterday.  But the plan from Sen. Steinberg is to keep the Senate on the floor until 27 members vote for passage and the crisis is (temporarily) averted.  Meanwhile, 20,000 layoff notices and the closure of $3.8 billion in state public works projects will take place today.  Things like projects to eliminate arsenic in Live Oak in the Central Valley.  You know, dispensable things.  And the Times has a bead on the three Assembly members who plan to vote in favor – Roger Niello, Anthony Adams and Minority Leader Mike Villines.  This is a representative sample of the countervailing forces that Yacht Party members have to deal with.

Adams, a bearded 37-year-old who was elected in 2006 after working for San Bernardino County as its legislative liaison to Sacramento and Washington, has said he would provide the Assembly’s third GOP vote.

“It’s unconscionable that we let this state go over the cliff,” Adams said in an interview. “My job is to get the best possible deal for Republicans.”

Adams faces reelection next year, and his support for the budget package has antitax advocates interested in lining up a challenger in the GOP primary. And because he represents a swing district, Adams must also worry about a general-election challenge from a Democrat.Adams said he had not asked for specific concessions for his vote, or for assurances that he would get assistance to fend off election challenges.

“I’m not trying to find some soft landing,” he said, “although my wife is going to kill me if she hears that.”

They are not rewarded for their vote, and they fear their own “head on a stick” party members more than the opposition.  And so you get this gridlock.

It occurs to me that what Steinberg is doing is what progressives have asked Harry Reid to do in the US Senate for years now.  When GOP obstructionists threaten to filibuster key legislation, we always say “Make them filibuster!  Make them stand up in the well of the Senate and talk endlessly about how we can’t afford to provide health care for children, or how we have to offer more tax cuts to the wealthiest 1%.  Let the whole country see it!”  Well, we’re basically doing that.  The 15 members of the Yacht Party caucus in the Senate will be locked down and forced to reiterate their arguments indefinitely.

Problem is, the whole country won’t be seeing it, the whole state won’t be seeing it, in fact almost nobody will be seeing it.  This is the true failure of a lack of political awareness in California, and a lack of political media.  The pressure points are nearly impossible to hit.  A lot of lawmakers will get tired and need to “bring your toothbrush,” as Steinberg said, but there’s precious little drama outside of Sacramento.  And yet the decisions made in that chamber will undoubtedly impact the entire national economy, not just us.

But that is also good, in a sense, because it means that a sliver of opinion makers descending on the phone lines of the legislature can seen like an army.  I’m going to reprint the email alert that Brian sent out last night, which you may have received, because I think he captured the situation perfectly.  The leadership is making them filibuster.  Now it’s up to us to put on the pressure.

Hey there, registered Calitics user –

If you have been watching Calitics or the news this week, you’ve heard about the budget debacle going on in Sacramento.  For the last three days, we have remained one vote short of the required two-thirds majority for a budget deal, with only two Republicans being willing to join the Democratic caucus in the Senate. You can follow our coverage of the Budget here:


To be blunt, the budget deal on the table is a mess. It consists of over twenty bills in each chamber. It guts environmental protections on several major projects, it offers gifts to corporations and a few powerful industries.  It relies on cuts and borrowing far too heavily, and does not provide the real long-term fixes of our revenue stream that we so desperately need. And the spending cap that will go to the ballot in the spring represents a major step backward, and progressives will have to expend substantial resources to defeat it. Yet despite all that, only one thing is really clear:

If we do nothing, the state faces systemic collapse.

Because Republicans refused for years to look at new revenues to balance the state’s budget, California is being hit harder by the economic crisis than any other state. We face a $40 billion deficit, and already the state is running out of money. Schools are looking at cutting classes and laying off teachers. Tomorrow, if there is no budget, 276 infrastructure projects will be halted – affecting 38,000 workers in the state, and the governor has announced that he will issue layoff notices to 20,000 state workers. And the state’s credit rating, already low, will suffer further downgrades, effectively costing taxpayers more money.

The media has now taken notice that the Republicans are trying to bring the state down with them. But the media has little power if we aren’t watching and if our leaders don’t know we are watching them. So, here is what we need to do:

Call Senator Abel Maldanado (R-Monterey County, 916-651-4015) and tell him to give up his list of demands and end this hostage situation.

Call Senator Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks, 916-651-4001) and tell him that the state deserves better than a Senator who goes back on a deal when threatened by his own party’s extremists.

Tell as many people to do the same thing. Use every tool at your disposal, Twitter, facebook, or just word of mouth. The more people that know about this Republican extremism threatening our state, the better.

The Senate is set to once again resume session, and we might be in for another all-nighter. However, keep at it, because this is simply too important to let Republicans play their dangerous games with the lives of Californians.

Sen. Boxer On FISA

If you’re following the FISA battle, you may know that Sen. Feingold and Dodd have vowed to filibuster the full bill when it comes to the floor for a vote.  That’s slightly less promising than it sounds.  The motion to proceed has already been filed by Sen. Reid, and so without the votes on the Dodd-Feingold filibuster, it will be broken.  They can stretch out the bill, hopefully to the July 4 recess, but in order to stop it in its tracks you would need less than 60 votes for cloture.

One of those votes may be Sen. Boxer, who just delivered this statement on the floor of the Senate:

One of the most basic tenets of our freedom is justice, and at the heart of justice lies the search for truth.

Throughout history, whenever the United States government has violated the trust of the American people, we have always worked to regain that trust by seeking the truth and allowing for a full examination of the abuses of government power.

In 1975, the Church Committee-which would later become the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence-looked into allegations of covert and illegal spying by the federal government on Americans.

What did the Committee find?  The Committee found that the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, and the CIA had engaged in spying on the political activities of American citizens.

As a result, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, setting up a new court with authority to approve electronic surveillance on a case by case basis.

But in late 2005, we learned that the U.S. government had again violated the trust of the American people when the New York Times published a story exposing a warrantless  surveillance program authorized by President Bush shortly after 9/11.

Since that time, Congress and the American people have been grappling with the disclosure, and working, with absolutely no help from the Bush Administration, to find out exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, what we have before us today is a bill that would not only deny the Court the ability to finally make a judicial determination as to the legality of the NSA program, but would effectively guarantee immunity for the telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Administration and violated the privacy of their customers.

Now, I would support granting the telecom companies indemnification, but this immunity provision blocks us from finding the truth.

I know that many of my colleagues in the Senate think we know enough about this program.

But we do not know enough.  The Bush Administration trampled on the Constitution, and we are not doing anything in this bill to provide accountability.

This bill goes along with the premise that we hold up the constitution when it suits us, and we set it aside when it hinders what we want to do.

Simply put, this bill is a fig leaf that attempts to hide the truth about the warrantless surveillance program at the expense of the rights of our citizens.

And if we vote for it today, we are perpetuating a cover-up.

However, she has not said whether or not she supports the filibuster.  You can call her right now:

Barbara Boxer

(202) 224-3553

It’s important to note that our hope here is to DELAY.  The odds of limiting cloture to 61 people are remote.  But if Dodd and Feingold take up all their time on the floor, and enough Senators are there to help and ask questions, we can stretch this thing out.  DFA has some sample text for Sen. Boxer:

“I calling to demand Senator (Boxer or Feinstein) support a filibuster of any bill that will ultimately grant immunity to telecommunications companies who spied on innocent Americans. Can I count on the Senator to stand up to President Bush and his fear mongering?”

DFA, True Majority, and MoveOn are working on this.

Call Senator Feinstein

Retroactive Immunity for big phone companies is hitting the U.S. Senate this afternoon. Here’s the latest from Senator Feinstein (via email):

I am keeping an open mind to whether some other legislative approach besides immunity would be best.

Give her a call:

310-914-7300 (Los Angeles)

415-393-0707 (San Francisco)

619-231-9712 (San Diego)

559-485-7430 (Fresno)

Here is some suggested text when asking her to support Chris Dodd’s filibuster:

Amendment IV. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

There are some things that an elected official is not supposed to keep an “open mind” about, as spelled out in their oath.