Wednesday, May 16, 2012
A fight over who can be a U.S. citizen has turned into a question about who can make the rules in the U.S. Senate. The government watchdog group Common Cause is using the filibuster that blocked the Dream Act to challenge the way legislation is derailed in the Senate.
Erika Andiola was 11 when her mother brought her to the U.S. from Mexico. She grew up in Arizona, attended Arizona State University and joined the effort to pass the Dream Act. That’s the measure to put undocumented college students and members of the U.S. military on a path to U.S. citizenship.
When the House passed the Dream Act, Andiola figured the Senate would, too. "Everybody was talking about the Dream Act. I was really, really hopeful that something was going to happen. And it didn’t. It failed by only five votes."
Actually, what failed was the vote to end the filibuster that had blocked a floor vote on the Dream Act. A majority of senators — 55 — voted to end the filibuster, but you need 60 to do it.
Former Pennsylvania congressman Bob Edgar says a minority "can't hold hostage the nation's business." Edgar is the president of Common Cause. That group, along with three Dream Act students, is suing the U.S. Senate.
Edgar says filibusters stop the majority from getting the people’s business done. "In recent years," he said, "the filibuster has been used to stifle debate and action on a vast array of legislation passed by the House and supported by a clear majority of senators." Read more....