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November 10, 2012

Another View: Snowe does not put blame for dysfunction in the right place

By Bill Harnsberger, who lives in Portland

Olympia Snowe's Another View editorial ("King editorial missed point about what Senate needs" Nov. 9) reminds me why I'll be glad to see her replacement, Angus King, take over in January.

Sen. Snowe did not tell the whole story in her letter when she said that "essentially 60 votes are required to pass legislation" in the United States Senate.

The reason those 60 votes are "essentially" required now is because, since they lost their grip on the majority, Republicans have systematically abused Senate rules to grind the chamber's business to a halt.

Sixty votes are required to overcome the threat of a filibuster and move a bill to the Senate floor.

Once that threshold is passed, only 51 votes – a simple majority – are needed to actually pass the bill.

The filibuster was used an average of once a year between 1920 and 1970. During the 2009-2010 session – President Obama's first year in office – it was employed by Republicans more than 130 times, derailing legislation that could have created jobs and gotten our economy chugging along at a much healthier pace.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly stated that his No. 1 goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

Instead of doing the people's business, McConnell and his Republican colleagues, including Sen. Snowe, coldly abused Senate rules to gum up the works and derail Obama's agenda.

Sen. Snowe went along with McConnell's plan and now has the gall to claim, essentially, that "both sides do it."

Well, both sides don't do it. Republicans alone are responsible for the gridlock in the Senate ... end of story.

I wish Sen. Snowe well in her retirement. But her participation in what amounted to a four-year Republican hissy fit will forever leave a cloud over her legacy.





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