If you’re paying attention to the political shenanigans in Washington, D.C., you might be aware that the Republicans are aiming for a partial government shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in retaliation for the immigration-related executive orders that President Obama issued last year. Reading through the comments for various political stories, I see frequent calls to save the U.S. Constitution. It’s painfully obvious that some citizens—and too many Tea Party Republicans—have no clue how the government works. During the U.S. Bicentennial (1975-1976) celebration, ABC TV had a series of Schoolhouse Rock! cartoons on how the government works. My all-time favorite was “I’m Just a Bill” that explains how a bill becomes a law in Congress.
Education and civic responsibility still meant something 40 years ago. Not today. Too many people display their willful ignorance with pride, too many politicians lack courage to rebuke ignorance with knowledge. This became obvious after the House Republicans passed their bill to fund the DHS and reverse the executive orders, which failed four times in the Republican-controlled Senate to override the Democratic filibusters, insisting that they did their job and the Senate needed to do their job by rubber-stamping the bill.
That’s not how Congress works: the majority can cram bills through the House; the minority can halt bills in the Senate.
The Republicans may have a majority in the Senate, but they lack the votes to override a Democratic filibuster (60 votes) and a presidential veto (67 votes). As the House Republicans demonstrated on Friday night, they don’t have the 218 votes to pass their own bills if the Tea Party Republicans votes no and the Democratic minority withhold their votes. Even if their bill did get rubber-stamped by the Senate, the House Republicans don’t have the 290 votes to override the expected presidential veto.
I was quite pleased to see that the Disney Educational Productions had uploaded new versions of the Schoolhouse Rock! videos on YouTube. While glancing through the comments for the “I’m Just a Bill” video, someone noted that Saturday Night Live did an updated skit of that video. President Obama comes out to push “I’m Just A Bill” down the Capitol steps and introduced “I’m Just An Executive Order” to run the government. The funny thing is, despite a Republican judge ruling that 26 states have legal standing to file a lawsuit and granting a temporary stay, the executive orders are constitutional and legal.
If the Republicans believe their own rhetoric that President Obama is the dictator in chief, they can always remove him from office through impeachment. They have enough votes in the House to impeach; they don’t have enough votes in the Senate to convict. With the Obama Administration being scandal free for the last six years, the Senate Republicans will have a tough time getting any Democrats to vote with them for conviction.
While the lowest voter turnout in 72 years gave the Republicans control of Congress, voters didn’t give them enough power to ignore the Democrats and President Obama. Until that painful reality sinks, expect two more years of political shenanigans.