WASHINGTON - House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pledged to his caucus on June 18 that no major legislation, including immigration, will come up for votes without support from "a majority of the majority," i.e. a majority of Republican representatives.
Boehner's statement is important because it gives his 234-member caucus, and particularly its tea party-radical right bloc, a virtual veto over what Congress does, regardless of the Senate, dissenting Republicans or the House's 201 Democrats.
And the tea partyers have demonstrated a hard-line attitude on immigration, forcing a bill through the GOP-run House on a party-line vote, to overturn President Obama's decision to let the "DREAMers" - college students or youngsters in the military - brought to the U.S. as undocumented children, stay here.
Meanwhile, the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmental groups, led by the Steelworkers, has announced that it is joining the Communications Workers in their ongoing campaign to push for an end to the Senate filibuster. The Utility Workers and the Auto Workers are also part of the Blue-Green Alliance.
"GOP obstruction has hindered nominations to cabinet positions, including the EPA administrator, Secretary of Labor and National Labor Relations Board nominees, as well as blocking judicial nominees, making the existing caseload unmanageable for many courts," said Steelworkers President Leo Gerard.
"More and more, vacancies at key agencies go unfilled while less and less is getting done to ensure safe workplaces and communities," Gerard added.
"This obstructionism brings our most basic democratic processes to a halt," said Utility Workers president Mike Langford. "Too many legislative priorities remain tied up in flawed Senate procedure. The Senate's failure to confirm highly qualified agency nominees and judges is unacceptable and must stop immediately."
"Key positions created to hold big corporations accountable, shield consumers from fraud and keep working Americans safe are vacant and ineffective because of congressional inaction. If the Senate is truly interested in giving families the full protection of the law, they'll break the logjam and confirm the qualified nominees to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and courtrooms across the country," added Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the biggest defender and user of the filibuster, retorts that if senators change their rules now to curb the talkathons -- by making it easier to shut them off -- he'll respond when the GOP takes over the Senate by passing a national right-to-work law.
Photo: John Boehner says that no bill will be approved unless it has the support of a majority of House Republicans. DonkeyHotey/Flickr (CC)