Obama’s Outrageous Filibuster Lie
Too bad the Washington Post doesn’t give out five Pinocchios for political lies. Considering President Obama’s latest double whopper of a fib, they might want to reconsider that policy.
At the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Los Angeles last Wednesday, the president stretched the truth like a tutu on a sideshow fat lady.
Here’s what’s more disconcerting. Their [Republicans] willingness to say no to everything — the fact that since 2007, they have filibustered about 500 pieces of legislation that would help the middle class just gives you a sense of how opposed they are to any progress — has actually led to an increase in cynicism and discouragement among the people who were counting on us to fight for them.– President Barack Obama, remarks at a DCCC dinner, May 7, 2014
For clarification, a filibuster is a Senate procedure designed to extend debate in an effort to delay or derail pending legislation or a judicial/executive branch nomination by requiring 60 Senators to agree before an actual vote can occur on the floor. Cloture, on the other hand, is a device intended to end such debate. Filibusters are utilized by the opponents, while cloture is filed by supporters.
No matter how one looks at it, the president’s bogus claim is outrageous and laughable at every level.
Since 2007, there have been 527 cloture motions that have been filed, according to Senate statistics. This is apparently where Obama got his figure. But this tells only part of the story, as many of those cloture motions were simply dropped, never actually voted on, or “vitiated” in the senatorial nomenclature.
Obama is assuming every cloture motion can be counted as a filibuster. Indeed, when you go through the numbers, there have just been 133 successful filibusters — meaning a final vote could not take place — since 2007.
But, even if you accept the way Senate Democrats like to frame the issue, the president is still wrong. He referred to “legislation” — and most of these cloture motions concerned judicial and executive branch nominations. In the 113th Congress, for instance, 83 of the 136 cloture motions so far have concerned nominations, not legislation.
Yet, even those numbers don’t represent the complete picture.
First, the numbers are further inflated by the fact that the same piece of legislation can have as many as three cloture motions. Again, as the Washington Post notes:
For instance, there may be cloture to get on the bill, cloture on the substitute bill (if lawmakers are simply using an unrelated bill as a vehicle for passage), and cloture on the underlying bill. All of these votes might take place on the same day, but it creates the illusion of the same bill being “filibustered” three times. It certainly does not mean there were three pieces of legislation.
So, as an example, of the 53 legislative cloture motions of the 113th Congress, there were really just 36 unique bills — and only 12 were actually filibustered. Of course, that’s nowhere near the 136 that Obama is including in his count in order to pad his numbers and reach the 500 filibusters mark.
Second, Obama’s count also includes “at least a half-dozen instances” when the Democrats utilized the the filibuster against the Republicans.
Third, in arriving at his distorted tally, the president curiously decided to go back to 2007, which means that he’s including two years while he was still serving as a senator. “On eight occasions, he voted against ending debate [in favor of a filibuster],” Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post ironically pointed out, “the very thing he decried in his remarks.”
Having served in the U.S. Senate, the president surely understands its complex rules, terms and procedures. There’s really no reasonable excuse for his misstatement. He’s obviously just playing politics as usual — the very thing he pledged to end as president.
The Republicans have certainly filibustered legislation, such as the proposed increase in the minimum wage. And unhappy about not getting his way all of the time, it appears that President Obama is becoming frustrated to the point of playing fast and loose with the truth. Even more loose than before!
At least it’s getting easier to tell when the president is lying — it has something to do with his mouth moving.
See FOX News’ host of America’s Newsroom, Martha MacCallum, discussing this issue in the video segment below:
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