Max Baucus

The Democratic Women In Senate Races

The role of women in the Democratic Party Senate races is becoming much more significant, and at this time, there is a good chance that many will be successful, including the incumbent women and the challenger women.

In the first category, we have Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

In the second category, we have Senate candidates Natalie Tennant in West Virginia, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Michelle Nunn of Georgia, and Amanda Curtis of Montana.

At this point, two months before the election, the odds are good for Landrieu, Hagan, Shaheen, Grimes and Nunn, with Tennant and Curtis more likely to fail to be elected to replace retiring Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus.

With 16 women Democratic Senators, it is likely that we will seeΒ  a few more in 2015!

The Courage Of Pro NRA Senators Who Voted For The Universal Background Checks Bill

Attention has been paid to those Pro NRA Senators who refused to support the Universal Background Checks bill, and who now have suffered drops in public opinion polls in their states, including Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Nevada Senator Dean Heller, and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.

Not as much attention has been paid to the Senators of both parties who did not let their basically Pro NRA viewpoints stand in the way of common sense and reality.

These include:

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania
Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico
Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana
Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia
Senator Jon Tester of Montana
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia

And shame on Democratic Senators Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Nick Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Max Baucus of Montana for voting against the Universal Background Checks, and a salute to Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mark Kirk of Illinois, who joined Pat Toomey in support of the legislation!

US Senate Seniority And Age Declining: Good For America!

The US Senate has become a legislative body made up primarily of old people with long terms of service and seniority, but now the future looks bright, as we are seeing a wave of retirements by 2014.

The following Democratic Senators are retiring in 2014, who have had long years of service, and leadership of Senate committees:

Max Baucus of Montana, 30 years
Carl Levin of Michigan, 30 years
Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, 30 years
Tom Harkin of Iowa, 24 years
Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, 24 years
Tim Johnson of South Dakota, 18 years

Lautenberg will be 90 when he leaves office: Levin will be 80; Rockefeller will be 77; Harkin will be 75; Baucus will be 73; and Johnson, who had a stroke a few years ago, will be 68!

Overall, 27 Senators range in age from 69 to 89; 34 Senators range in age from 59-68; 27 Senators range in age from 50-58; and only 12 Senators are in their 40s!

This age factor has made the US Senate an “old folks home”, as most Americans are starting to retire from full time work by the time they reach their early 60s!

There needs to be an age limit of some sort, as the nation needs Senators who are modern in their outlook, and flexible enough to be able to have an open mind on issues affecting the nation.

It will not happen, since it would have to be a constitutional amendment, but a limit of four terms (24 years) should be be adopted, and an age of retirement no later than 75, a full ten years more than nearly all Americans in the work world!

The Need For Filibuster Reform In The US Senate

The Senate is in a crisis situation, unable to accomplish much, due to the ridiculous filibuster issue, which has totally derailed action or voting on so many matters in the past few years.

The Republican minority has been able, just by threatening a filibuster, to block approval of judicial and executive nominations, and prevent serious discussion and voting on crucial matters. The filibuster, however, does not presently require that any Senator or Senators take the floor and talk for hours and hours, as Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina did in 1957, when he set a record of 25 hours for a personal filibuster, or having an 83 day group filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, before finally cloture was voted, and the filibuster was overcome.

So there have been proposals to modify the present requirement that 60 votes are needed to allow movement forward on any Senate issue.

Some want a simple 51 vote majority, similar to the 218 simple vote majority needed in the House of Representatives, while others want a 55 vote majority needed to move forward.

And others suggest something even less of a controversy: Bills for debate could not be filibustered, and filibusters could not be used to prevent formal negotiations with the House on Senate passed legislation, what is called the formation of a conference committee, which used to be common, and now is very rare.

Also, a Senator would have to be on the floor to mount a filibuster, or else, a vote on the bill would proceed. So the old filibuster rule, best represented by the Thurmond example, would require a commitment by one or a group of Senators to give the effort by personal sacrifices, speaking constantly on the floor of the Senate, to stop the bill from moving forward.

Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico have proposed these reasonable changes, and Joe Biden, as presiding officer, could move such changes forward, but there are seven Democrats, out of the 55 in the new Senate, who seem to be opposed.

These are Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, Carl Levin of Michigan, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Max Baucus of Montana, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Notice that these Senators are all senior and older, longer serving members, with the shortest amount of service being Pryor, in the Senate since 2003.

This failure to understand how important reform is makes one watching this legislative mess feel very frustrated, and leaves one with the feeling that Senate reform will likely fail, and further undermine respect for our Congress and its ability to get things done!

Sad Ending On DREAM Act: “The American Dream” Denied To Young Illegal Immigrants Who Wish To Contribute To The Only Nation They Know! :(

A very sad development yesterday in the US Senate was the denial of an opportunity for young illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as babies or very young children, and never have done anything illegal, but are being denied the right to move toward citizenship by pursuing college or entering the military.

These children are not lawbreakers, even if their parents are, and they have no memory of their former homeland. They have been discriminated against, and just wished to pursue the “American dream” that we hear so much about, but the Republicans in the Senate, except for three courageous souls, refused to allow such an opportunity.

The only three Republicans who voted in favor of cloture to end the filibuster by their party on the proposed DREAM Act were Richard Lugar of Indiana, Robert Bennett of Utah, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

However, since the vote, with four Senators not present, was 55-41, we must also look at the five Democrats who voted against the DREAM Act–Kay Hagen of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Jon Tester and Max Baucus of Montana. These five Senators did not show reasonable justification for their votes, and should rightfully be condemned for their vote.

With this defeat, and with the reality of GOP control of the House of Representatives for the next two years, and fewer Democrats in the Senate as well, it is unlikely that the DREAM Act or anything similar to it will have any fortune in the next few years.

But the battle for immigration reform, including giving opportunities to children who have done no wrong except being born to the “wrong” parents, will continue, and with the growing Latino population in this country, eventually human rights and civil rights will come to these deserving children of illegal immigrants!

The Harsh Reality: The Republicans Control The Senate, Even Though They Do Not Have The Majority Of Seats! :(

The vote this morning in the Senate on the tax cut extension legislation proves what many do not want to admit! πŸ™

The Republican Party controls the Senate, even though they do not have the majority of seats! πŸ™

So the Republican Party will control what goes on in both houses in the 112th Congress, despite the fact that the Democrats will have 53 seats in the new Senate! πŸ™

At this point, with more seats than they will have next year, the Democrats were unsuccessful in their goal of stopping tax cuts for the top two percent of the population, while continuing it for the other 98 percent of the population!

The amendment by Montana Senator Max Baucus to retain the tax cuts for individuals earning up to $200,000 and for couples earning up to $250,000 failed miserably! πŸ™

But also, New York Senator Chuck Schumer proposed a modified deal, which would have kept tax cuts for incomes up to $1 million, meaning only the top ONE percent earning more than a million dollars would have seen their taxes increase, and still it was unattainable in a Senate with more Democrats than will be present next year! πŸ™

Of course, the culprit is the Senate filibuster, which requires 60 votes to stop a filibuster, impossible almost always with 59 Senators who were Democrats and Independents, but certainly inconceivable with only 53 Democrats and Independents in the Senate for the next two years! πŸ™

There will be a move in the new Senate by younger Democratic Senators to change the rules of the Senate to lower the number needed to overcome a filibuster, but it can be seen that it is highly doubtful that any change will occur, so reality is: The Republicans will control both chambers of Congress effectively for the next two years, and will do everything conceivable to prevent any successes for President Obama’s agenda, as their only goal is his defeat in 2012 and the destruction of the Obama Health Care legislation and other reforms in 2013, when they hope to win the Presidency and the Senate, and take us back to the past! πŸ™

Time For Use Of “Reconciliation” To Enact Health Care Reform

The tactic of “reconciliation”, requiring only 50 votes if the Vice President breaks the tie, or 51 votes majority in the Senate to enact legislation, is ready to be utilized if the conservative Democrats, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Max Baucus of Montana, refuse to be loyal to their party and complicate the passage by not cooperating to overcome a filibuster.

The “reconciliation” tactic has been used before, as for instance to enact the two Bush tax cuts, so there is no reason why it cannot be used now to bring about the most important legislation in at least a generation.

Statements by Senator Nelson and Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that such a tactic would be wrong is pure hypocrisy, and it is time to make it clear to both the GOP and the conservative Democrats that the party will ignore them and pass legislation over their heads if they refuse to cooperate!