Ok, as has become abundantly clear over the last thirteen months, the Democrats are for all intents and purposes useless in the Senate. They are prostrating themselves before the Republicans even thought they have an eighteen vote majority over the Republicans. Health care reform was watered down to the point where most liberals now oppose it, and the right is blocking even this. Shelby placed holds on every nomination currently pending, literally extorting tens of billions of dollars from the federal government for Alabama.
Well, if the Democrats were not so lacking in spine that even sea slugs look down on them, this would be a perfect opportunity to destroy the Republican party for good. It runs something like this:
Don’t allow procedural filibusters. If someone wants to filibuster legislation, then they can get up and read the phone book. They cannot, of course, take breaks. That’s not how a filibuster works. They must continue reading without more than a pause for breath or a sip of water, without the opportunity for meals, sleep, or bathroom. And the whole while cameras are rolling, recording the Republicans shutting down the Senate.
One advantage of having an 18 vote majority is that you have the power to set the agenda. So firs thing every morning, bring up a health care bill for a vote. Every day. The Republicans will be forced to shut down all Senate functions until they end the filibusters and allow it to come up for a vote. If they want to put holds on nominees, then bring all 70 something nominees up for a cloture vote, and force them to maintain the hold on every single one. Every day.
And if some little smear of slime like Shelby wants to extort billions of dollars out of the federal government, well, the Executive branch controls how it spends its money. Suddenly all that spending from the federal government could find itself strangely slow to arrive, and all spending that the executive can withdraw without Congressional authorization should be pulled from Alabama. The Senate can draft bills cutting Alabama out of all federal spending and try to drive it through. They can say to Shelby “if you want to keep this up, we will make sure you can never be elected to an office in Alabama ever again.”
It’s within their power. They won’t do it because it’d get their hands dirty, but politics is dirty. That’s how it works.