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Fed Up With GOP Games, Democrats Say They’re Ready to Move Ahead on Legislation

The Senate parliamentarian has told Democrats they can pass legislation using a little-known rule to bypass filibusters.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to the press on May 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Democrats are getting more vocal about their disdain for Republicans, especially with regards to GOP lawmakers’ demands for bipartisanship, the absurdity of the conditions they have laid down and the constantly moving goalpost in negotiations.

If Republicans don’t get serious about making deals soon, several Democratic leaders have said, the party will go it alone on a number of legislative goals.

“We always hope that our Republican friends will work with us on things,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said on Tuesday, referencing President Joe Biden’s “build back better” agenda and the formation of a commission to study the January 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol building.

But Schumer also noted that the GOP’s refusal to negotiate may just be another means to obstruct the legislative process.

“We hope to move forward with Republicans, but we’re not going to let them, saying no, stand in our way.”

Several other Democrats have voiced similar sentiments. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) said it’s “close” to time for Democrats to move away from attempts at bipartisanship, while Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), the party whip in the Senate, said he’s “not happy with the progress that we’ve made.”

“I think we need to do better,” Durbin said.

Weeks of talks have so far resulted in zero agreements on a number of issues, including on infrastructure. On that topic, Schumer said that Democrats plan to “move forward in July,” with or without the support of Republicans on a final bill.

The Biden administration has already dropped the price tag on their own infrastructure proposal by around $600 billion in an effort to court more Republican support for the plan. But a group of Republicans, proposing their own counteroffers on the issue, refused to budge, and expressed dismay after meeting with officials in the administration on Friday.

In fact, it appears that the meeting on Friday may have had the opposite effect of what was intended by a bipartisanship-seeking President Biden.

“Based on [Friday’s] meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden,” said Kelley Moore, communications director for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia).

The insistence that Democrats negotiate with Republicans has been criticized by several progressive organizations. Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn, encouraged the administration to stop trying to create deals when Republicans are clearly not interested in doing so.

“Republicans are not a serious governing party,” Epting recently said, “and the Biden administration should stop treating them like one…. Republicans have shown they are more interested in lying about the last election than in solving today’s crises.”

William Rivers Pitt, senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout, wrote on Tuesday that believing Republican lawmakers will somehow decide that they are going to change their intention of 100 percent obstruction is not a worthwhile endeavor.

“[Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell (R-Kentucky) will never allow his Senate caucus to support a major Biden initiative,” Pitt wrote. “If the Democrats returned to the table with an offer to cut the spending on that bill down to 19 cents and an eraserless pencil, McConnell would take to the floor and announce he was studying the proposal. Days would go by as he laughed into his sleeve, until he’d finally fling the whole thing back at the Democrats because the 19 cents weren’t budget-neutral and the pencil was made in China.”

Instead, Democrats should move forward on bills, without Republicans intent on obstructing them, using a little-known device called Senate Rule 304, which allows lawmakers to use amendments on reconciliation-passed laws to bypass potential filibusters.

“The Senate parliamentarian has approved the use of Rule 304 on as many as six additional pieces of legislation,” Pitt noted, “all of which can be amendments to the [American Rescue Plan]. Not one single Republican vote would be required.”

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