Following the release of a report on the legislative business conducted by the Senate, conservative media have tried to cover up Republican obstructionism in order to label the Democratic-controlled Senate as "lazy" and "do-nothing." In fact, Senate Republicans have repeatedly used procedural tricks to block measures that would otherwise have passed the Senate.
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Right-Wing Media Attack Senate Democrats As "Lazy" And "Do-Nothing" ...
Hannity: "Democratic-Controlled Senate" Is A "Do-Nothing Chamber." From the April 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: There's a report out in the Washington secrets column in the Examiner is that the Democratic-controlled Senate, you know the one that hasn't passed a budget in over a thousand days -- well anyway, for those who need proof the Senate is a do-nothing chamber in 2011 and their failure to pass a federal budget in a thousand days, their constitutional duty, in the latest report, the Secretary of the Senate revealed a slew of new data that put the first session of the 112th Senate at the bottom of Senates since 1992 in terms of legislative productivity.
I mean, pretty damning considering that it wasn't even an election year. That's pretty bad. Shows how bad liberals, you know, running things are. They say -- just Republicans' fault. It's all the Republicans' fault. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 4/16/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Doocy: "Democrat-Controlled Senate" Is "The Laziest Senate In Decades." From the April 17 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Alright. Time now for your news by the numbers.
DOOCY: And finally, six-and-a-half hours a day. That's reportedly how long the 2011 Democrat-controlled Senate was in session per day. They also produced less legislation than any other Senate since 1992, earning the embarrassing distinction as the laziest Senate in decades. Congratulations. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/17/12, via Media Matters]
Breitbart.com: "Obama Was Right About The 'Do-Nothing Congress' -- At Least About The Democrat-Controlled Senate Portion." From an April 17 Breitbart.com post by John Sexton:
Obama was right about the "do-nothing Congress" -- at least about the Democrat-controlled Senate portion. A report released by the Secretary of the Senate shows that the 112th Senate has done less work than almost any Senate in recent history.
The 2011 Senate spent an average of just 6.5 hours, in session which is the second lowest in 20 years. Only 2008 saw a lower average number of work hours. But unlike 2008, 2011 was not an election year when political wrangling tends to mean less work gets done. The Senate also passed fewer bills into law in 2011 -- 90 in all -- than any previous Senate except one. [Breitbart.com, 4/17/12]
... But Senate Republicans' Obstructionism Is Responsible For Blocking Numerous Bills
In 2011, Senate Republicans Repeatedly Blocked The Senate From Acting. In 2011, Senate Republicans used procedural tricks, such as filibusters, to require that measures received the support of a supermajority of senators before they moved forward. The following legislation would have passed the Senate and the following nominations would have been confirmed had Senate Republicans not thrown up procedural roadblocks:
- Nomination Of Mari Carmen Aponte To Be Ambassador To The Republic Of El Salvador. [Senate vote 227, 12/12/11]
- Middle Class Tax Cut Act Of 2011. [Senate vote 224, 12/8/11; Senate vote 219, 12/1/11]
- Nomination Of Richard Cordray To Be Director Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. [Senate vote 223, 12/8/11]
- Nomination Of Caitlin Joan Halligan To Be A United States Circuit Judge. [Senate vote 222, 12/6/11]
- Teachers And First Responders Back To Work Act Of 2011. [Senate vote 177, 10/20/11]
- American Jobs Act Of 2011. [Senate vote 160, 10/11/11]
- Nomination Of James Michael Cole To Be Deputy Attorney General. [Senate vote 67, 5/9/11]
- Bill Reauthorizing Government Programs That Aid Small Businesses. [Senate vote 64, 5/4/11]
Senate Republicans' Obstruction Has Continued In 2012. Senate Republicans have continued their obstructionist tactics in 2012. The following bills would have passed and the following nominations would have been confirmed had Senate Republicans not used procedural devices to require support from a supermajority:
- Paying A Fair Share Act Of 2012. [Senate vote 65, 4/16/12]
- Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act. [Senate vote 63, 3/29/12]
- Reauthorization Of The Export-Import Bank Of The United States. [Senate vote 52, 3/20/12]
- Reopening American Capital Markets To Emerging Growth Companies Act Of 2011. [Senate vote 51, 3/20/12]
GOP Is On Pace To Attempt To Filibuster More Often Than Democrats Did When They Were In The Minority
So Far During This Congress, The Senate Has Held 48 Votes On Whether To Cut Off A Filibuster. A cloture vote is the only procedure available in most circumstances to attempt to cut off a filibuster and allow the Senate to take an up-or-down vote on a bill, a motion, or a nomination. A cloture vote generally requires a vote of 60 senators to be successful, while most measures only require the support of a majority of senators in order to be passed. The Senate held 34 cloture votes in 2011 and has held 14 cloture votes so far in 2012. [List of Senate roll call votes in 2011 from Senate.gov, accessed 4/17/12; List of Senate roll call votes in 2012 from Senate.gov, accessed 4/17/12]
In 2005-06, When Democrats Were In The Minority, The Senate Held Only 54 Cloture Votes Over The Full Two-Year Congress. Democrats were last in the minority in the Senate during the 109th Congress, which lasted from 2005-06. During that time, the Senate held 54 cloture votes. [List of Senate roll call votes in 2005 from Senate.gov, accessed 4/17/12; List of Senate roll call votes in 2006 from Senate.gov, accessed 4/17/12]
In 2003-04, The Senate Held Only 49 Cloture Votes. Democrats were also in the minority during the 108th Congress, which lasted from 2003-04. During that time, the Senate held 49 cloture votes. [List of Senate roll call votes in 2003 from Senate.gov, accessed 4/17/12; List of Senate roll call votes in 2004 from Senate.gov, accessed 4/17/12]