At last! Now I can say:
Make mine steak.
Let me OUT!
Let me IN!
Let me OUT!
Let me in…
from Martha Blah Blah
by Susan Meddaugh
Houghton Mifflin, 1996
accessed on YouTube 5/23/21
Who doesn’t remember January 6, 2021, 137 days ago? According to cbsnews.com as of May 6, 2021, 440 people have been arrested for the attack on our Capitol. Federal prosecutors expect to charge over 100 more. At least 47 are current or former military members. At least 10 of those arrested were either former or current law enforcement officers at the time of the violence. Most have of them have been fired.
These individuals are charged with a variety of crimes. The Department of Justice is also investigating group activity that may have occurred before and during the attack. At least 59 alleged insurrectionists are affiliated with extremist groups.
Over 900 search warrants have been issued, more than 80,000 reports have been reviewed, and over 15,000 hours of surveillance and body camera footage has been examined.
This case is probably the most complex investigation the Department of Justice has ever prosecuted.
We all watched live footage, open-mouthed. In the end, five people died including a Capitol Police officer. One hundred and forty police officers were injured. Our elected officials were traumatized. Our Capitol building itself sustained over $30 million in damages.
On May 13, 2021, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia) said “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures[.] If you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.” cnn.com/2021/05/13 He was not called out by his fellow Republicans. Can any sane, thinking person really believe what he said was true?
A bill was introduced and passed in the House of Representatives on May 19, 2021, to establish a bi-partisan commission to determine the causes for the insurrection. Because, yes, it really did happen. As early as this week, the bill could be up for debate in the Senate.
Once a bill gets to the floor, it only needs a simple majority, 51 votes, to pass, after the debate is over. And that’s the rub. The debate could go on ad infinitum. That’s the filibuster. It takes 60 votes, a super-majority, to prevent the debate (filibuster) from occurring at all. So to prevent the lengthy, exhausting, boring, needless, and irrelevant debate, some in Congress and the general public are saying a possible debate should be nipped in the bud. But 60 is a big number in our 117th Congress.
The United States Senate in its glossary defines filibuster “[as an i]nformal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions.” Senate Glossary
A filibuster allows a senator to block legislation, and both parties do it for their own political advantage.
Let’s take a short look at the history of the filibuster. As early as the first session of the Senate, Pennsylvania Senator William Maclay wrote in his diary that the “design of the Virginians . . . was to talk away the time, so that we could not get the bill passed.” senate.gov
Filibusters became more common around the turn of the 20th century. This led to its own debate about changing the rules to restrict the practice. In 1917, the Senate adopted a rule, cloture, that allowed a two-thirds majority to end a filibuster. In 1975, the Senate reduced the number of votes required from two-thirds (67) of the senators of the 100-member Senate to three-fifths (60).
In the normal course of events, debate is good. Both sides present their best arguments and a sane and rational vote takes place among people who have the best interest of our country at heart. And they vote the will of their constituents.
But under his recent change of heart, Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, has practically ensured a filibuster surrounding the case for the establishment of a bi-partisan commission. He has apparently changed the minds of several members of his caucus, too. And, 60 is a big number for our 117th Congress.
Why would the US Senate balk at a bi-partisan commission whose purpose is to get to the bottom of the reasons for the January 6 insurrection?
The only answers I can think of are disturbing, frightening, and worrisome.
-—stay curious! (and stay tuned)
*Lyrics from The Music Man. Meredith Willson.