If you needed any more proof that Congress’s “deliberative body” has officially become its “dysfunctional body,” today we have this:
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint warned Monday evening that he would block all legislation that has not been cleared by his office in the final days of the pre-election session.
Bret Bernhardt, DeMint's chief of staff, said in an e-mail to GOP and Democratic aides that his boss would place a hold on all legislation that has not been cleared by both parties by the end of the day Tuesday.
Any senator can place a hold to block legislation — and overcoming that would require the Senate to take time-consuming steps to invoke cloture, which would require 60 votes.
Even by the very, very low efficiency standards of today’s Senate GOP, DeMint’s decision to become a one-man obstructionist vigilante is taking things to a new level. Or maybe it’s not:
Now, however, a Democratic senator is coming forward to relay that DeMint's threat of grinding the consideration of bills to a halt is nothing new. It has been a formal policy of his since Obama was elected president.
"It is my understanding Jim DeMint has had a standing hold on everything throughout this two year process," Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. "When I have had amendments on a couple of occasions, I have been told: 'Absolutely, we in the Republican leadership are fine but you are going to have to clear it with Jim DeMint because he has a standing hold on everything.' So I'm not sure this is a real change from what he has been doing."
So, one senator in the minority party has had a stranglehold on all legislation for the past two years? Apparently, DeMint’s ideological hold on his party extends much farther than elections.