There are various explanations for this. But what this means in practical terms is the GOP majority has used parliamentary maneuvers to block votes on amendments to legislation that would likely pass with broad bipartisan support — on outsourcing jobs, immigration, gun safety, disaster relief, Social Security, Medicare, the environment, prescription drug costs, Pell Grants, national security, criminal-justice reform, veterans’ benefits, drinking water, child nutrition and maternal health.
But this heavy-handedness hasn’t produced much: just 14 bills signed into law that aren’t ceremonial or rejecting previous regulations. Last week, conservative Republicans brought down the farm bill, normally a popular piece of legislation, because they had a dispute with Republican leaders — over a separate immigration bill.
They are both correct, in a sense, but right now the fear of the United States going totalitarian doesn’t feel quite right. This crowd is too clownish to be Stalinist. Rather, the United States is turning into a banana republic:
The president of the United States orders the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents. The Justice Department complies.
The president, The Post reports, personally urged the postmaster general to double the rate it charges Amazon, apparently because he doesn’t like the coverage by The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos.
Longtime presidential confidant Roger Stone says he’s prepared to be indicted for some conjured-up “extraneous crime” as part of a special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe.
Donald Trump Jr., the New York Times reports, met three months before the election with a representative of wealthy princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who wanted to help his father’s campaign.
Newly appointed presidential lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who previously disclosed that the president paid hush money to silence a porn actress alleging an affair with him, calls her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, a “pimp.” Avenatti tweets a video of Giuliani in drag.
And now we see our national legislature setting a new standard for inoperability.
Republicans point out that the tally of “closed” rules has been inflated by Democrats refusing to offer amendments in a number of cases. They also point out that when they do open up bills for amendments, they take a lot: More than 1,000 so far, more than Democrats allowed when they were last in charge.
Regardless, the closing of debates means no chance to pass legislation that has the broad support of the American public — and, if given a vote, broad support from their representatives. And it’s not as if the Republican majority has been able to come up with an agenda of its own: Of the 172 bills signed into law so far, 142 are noncontroversial “suspension” bills such as post-office namings.
Democracy is indeed under threat – from a tyranny of buffoonery.