Thursday, January 11, 2007

At least they're all being adults about it

In a magnanimous display of bipartisan comity Thursday, House Democrats this week kicked Minority Leader Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, off the Education Appropriations Committee, despite the long tradition of including a senator from the vicinity of Auburn University. The Democrats' new Senate majority coalition also slashed Republican numbers on the chamber's three most powerful committees and effectively killed the filibuster for budget bills by lowering the number of votes needed to break one from 21 (60 percent) to 18 (a simple majority).

The changes are transparently partisan moves to consolidate Democratic power to the GOP's disadvantage, and any claims to the contrary are absurd. Still, the ratio of 10 Democrats to five Republicans on the major committees corresponds to the Senate's party breakdown, so it's tough to argue that GOP members are underrepresented. Further, even if you have mixed feelings about eliminating the budget filibuster, Alabama Democrats' move to do so at the very beginning of a legislative session is far preferable to Republicans' efforts in 2005 to circumvent U.S. Senate rules to abolish the judicial filibuster mid-session.

GOP senators constitute barely a third of the chamber's total membership, but they still are incensed that they didn't end up with majority power. Illustrative of the anger are Wednesday's comments from Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, who promised his minority coalition would "shut Montgomery down" unless Democratic leaders amend the new rules. Bishop also unloaded on Tuesday's swing voters, Sens. Phil Poole, D-Moundville, and Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, calling both of them "pinheads" and labeling Smitherman "liberal as any liberal Democrat beyond liberal." (Bishop's impressive ability to use the word liberal three times in a seven-word phrase suggests he'd be well suited to a career as a high-dollar attack ad writer.)

Who ever said politics doesn't bring out the best in everyone?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hubbard is in the House, not the Senate. Alabama is a bicameral state.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Whoops, a late-night typo. Thanks for catching it. I've corrected it.

8:30 AM  

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