In advance of the increasingly likely event of filibuster reform, Fox News is repeating the GOP spin that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is only considering this “drastic” change because of pressure from unions.
Reid has announced that Senate Democrats will meet on Thursday in order to decide whether the unrelenting GOP obstruction of every facet of President Barack Obama's agenda - legislation, executive policy, judicial nominees, cabinet picks, agency leadership - requires changes to Senate rules so that this governing body can actually govern.
According to America Live guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox News personalities Chris Stirewalt and Stuart Varney, however, Reid's response to this "post-policy nihilism in which sabotaging the Obama agenda has become its only guiding governing light," as explained by The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, is merely political payback for unions that supported his last campaign against tea party candidate Sharron Angle, who bragged about her fundraising from "friendly press outlets" like Fox News. From the July 10 edition of America Live:
Due to an unprecedented decision issued by a currently rightward skewed appellate court, the president's last two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will have their legitimacy decided before the Supreme Court next term. Because of this legal challenge, in conjunction with a previous Court ruling that prevents the NLRB from functioning with less than three active members, the president has submitted three Democrats and two Republicans for confirmation so the NLRB can continue to mediate disputes between labor and management.
Fox News is correct that unions would prefer that the NLRB, the sole avenue of recourse for many labor disputes in accordance with federal law established over 75 years ago, not be nullified by filibuster as currently threatened. And if Reid is able to get his caucus to agree to eliminate the GOP's ability to block an up-or-down vote on nominations to the executive branch - the limited reform being floated - a simple majority in the Senate will indeed decide the fate of the NLRB.
But to pretend that this is the only impetus behind Senate Democrats' possible and reluctant change to the rules is ridiculous.
In addition to the NLRB nominees, currently before the Senate for consideration are a backlog of the president's nominees for Labor Secretary, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director, and three vacant slots on the second-most important court in the nation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (the very court that issued the radical Noel Canning decision that struck down the president's NLRB appointees).
More simply, before the Senate are three agency heads that will direct the implementation of huge components of the president's second-term agenda and the completion of the crucial court that will likely decide on the inevitable right-wing legal challenges to these initiatives.
Indeed, today's Judiciary Committee hearing on the first of these three judicial picks was illustrative of how Senate Republicans are not even bothering to use the confirmation process as one where they advise and consent on the president's nominees. Instead, as the GOP Senators admitted they could not impugn the credentials of bipartisan-supported veteran litigator Patricia Millett, they resorted to the repeatedly debunked claim that D.C. Circuit seats happily filled with right-wing judges when they were in power are suddenly unnecessary.
Fox News did not report on this hearing.
In sum, Fox News is ignoring the bigger picture - which even GOP leadership freely admits is one of complete obstruction - to pretend it's all big bad labor driving filibuster reform. Considering right-wing media has been egging Republicans on at seemingly every filibuster opportunity, maybe they should examine their own responsibility for this showdown, rather than concoct conspiracy theories about the ghosts of failed Fox-pushed candidates.