Make Them Vote Against the $2,000 Checks

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Jack Holmes
·5 min read
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Photo credit: JIM WATSON - Getty Images
Photo credit: JIM WATSON - Getty Images

From Esquire

Mitch McConnell is a megalomaniac with no regard for the public interest. He was also very deliberately turfed out of power in the 2020 elections. The explicit premise of the Georgia runoff races, promoted by both sides, was that the two contests would determine control of the Senate. Democrats won both, delivering them a 50+1 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker. They now legitimately control the Senate, and have a mandate to bring bills to the floor to be voted on by all members. McConnell spent the last week or so denying this reality, however, obstructing an organizing resolution that would have installed Democrats in their committee chairmanships and get the new session of Congress in motion. He engaged in this obstruction, holding the upper chamber of the federal legislature in a hostage situation, in order to keep his favorite tool of obstruction in place: the filibuster. That is to say, he held the Senate hostage so he could continue holding it hostage for the next two years.

The solution is simple: Democrats should completely ignore McConnell. He is one of the most unpopular senators, and indeed politicians, that this country has. Nobody likes him except The Donors, who are the only people he actually serves. (He is also a liar and a scoundrel, making noise about holding the former president accountable for inciting a violent insurrection in an attempt to seize power by force, then voting with 44 of his colleagues to say an impeachment trial is unconstitutional.) McConnell is attempting to abuse an illegitimate veto power over the will of the majority in the Senate. It's not just that Democrats have the majority, it's that their senators represent 40 million more people than McConnell's Republican minority. He has no legitimacy here, only shameless audacity, and the filibuster is not some holy rite enshrined in the Constitution. Get rid of it and ignore him.

Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images

Instead of attempting to deal with someone who is not interested in passing legislation, Democrats should write bills addressing pressing national issues with solutions that are popular with the American public. Then they should bring those bills to the floor and force senators to vote on them. A big reason nothing gets done anymore is that for years now, senators could block legislation with just the mere threat of a filibuster. They were not even required to actually filibuster them, meaning take to the Senate floor to yap away like an asshole for hours on end. At the very least, if you're going to singlehandedly block legislation, you should have to get up and announce it's you who's doing it. (A notable exception is Ted Cruz's Green Eggs & Ham routine, which he engaged in because he wanted the Republican Base to know he was throwing a tantrum over Obamacare.) The result was that McConnell and his allies could block stuff, no matter how popular or needed it was, with no real consequences. They did not have to really go on the record opposing things, and it's much harder to hold people accountable when legislation dies in the dark. Make them cast a vote against H.R. 1! Don't let them kill it in a back room.

Democrats should bring $2,000 checks to the floor and make everybody vote on it. If senators want to vote against a manifestly popular measure, they can, but their constituents should know for sure where they stand on it. (Also, Democrats should not fuck around with $1,400 checks, which some say are added on to the already sent $600 checks in order to make $2,000. They promised $2,000, and even that is probably insufficient. Senator Ed Markey's proposal to send regular monthly payments until the pandemic and related economic hardships are over is likely closer to the mark. Just send the checks.) In general, the goal should be to make members of the United States Senate vote on things. Stop letting people off the hook with procedural squabbles. Put them on the record so that citizens know how their representatives voted. It also makes for easier messaging in future elections and pressure campaigns.

Speaking of, similar tactics may need to be used on the conservative Democrats who still claim to harbor delusions of returning to an era of Bipartisan Comity and Compromise. As we discussed yesterday, Joe Manchin's claim that his Republican colleagues are ready and willing to come to the table on vital legislation is nearly as insane as what's often coming out of Republican mouths. It's hard to believe that he truly believes it. But either way, he and Kyrsten Sinema—and any other possible holdouts—must be convinced to join the Democratic caucus when it comes time to get rid of the filibuster in its current form. (As Alex Pareene detailed in The New Republic Wednesday, that might involve getting rid of the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster rather than the filibuster itself.) If that means running a sustained public pressure campaign, then so be it. Because they're going to need to change the rules, just like Mitch McConnell did in order to stuff three right-wingers on the Supreme Court. The minority leader will not allow the Senate—or the Congress—to do the people's business while Democrats are in power, so he must be removed from the equation.

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