Editorial - Blind partisanship strikes again
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 00:06
On January 9, 2009, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, a piece of legislation designed to fight wage disparities between male and female workers. Yesterday, over three years since the bipartisan vote in the House approved the bill, a strictly partisan vote in the Senate prevented an up or down vote on the bill.
In other words, it took the Senate three and a half years to vote on whether or not it would vote on this bill. And after all this deliberating, our highest legislative body decided there would be no simple majority vote.
Had it passed, the bill would have required employers to demonstrate what factors contributed to wage discrepancies between their male and female employees.
Recent data from the United States Census Bureau shows that women in the U.S. only make 77 cents for every dollar a male makes. This pay gap is even worse for minority females. Considering the seriousness and prevalence of this problem, one would think that surely at least some Republicans would support this measure. And in any other year (such as in 2009), that may have been the case.
But not in this election year.
In what was the latest example of Congress’s signature partisan gridlock, all 46 Senate Republicans voted to block the progression of the bill. The fact that this is an election year undoubtedly contributed to the polarized nature of this tally.
Needless to say, this was no isolated incident. Congress has become notorious for its paralysis, and this is simply the latest example. It’s no wonder a recent Gallup poll found Congress’s approval rating is at a historic low, consistently hovering at around 11 percent. Although that number is shockingly low, it’s hardly surprising considering the historically poor job Congress is doing.
This chronic problem raises a number of important questions for Americans. Most importantly, we should be asking ourselves whether or not it is time to consider reforming our Congress.
When a problem is as persistent as the extreme polarization in our modern-day political atmosphere, there is definitely reason to evaluate the system the problem stems from.
In this case, it is becoming increasingly clear that the filibuster tactic, requiring 60 votes for passage of a bill in the Senate instead of a simple majority, is being abused for partisan reasons.
As many prominent academics and former lawmakers have suggested, it is time for American society to have a healthy debate on how to resolve this problem and save our political system from itself.