By David Swanson
Senator Chris Dodd on Thursday single-handedly blocked a bill to legalize unconstitutional spying and immunize criminals who have engaged in it. But by doing so, Dodd may have made the biggest blunder Washington has seen in many months. He advertised the fact that a single senator with nerve has the power to block a bill, including – of course – every bill to further fund the occupation of Iraq. Now, how will Dodd explain his past and future failure to use the same power to end the war that he has used to end warrantless spying? How will other senators, including Harry Reid, explain their own failure? How will Nancy Pelosi manage to keep asserting in every conversation that only 67 senators can end a war?
Dodd released the following statement:
It’s been a busy day, but I wanted take a moment and let you know that I have decided to place a “hold” on legislation in the Senate that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President’s assault on the Constitution by providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.
I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.
It’s about delivering results — and as I’ve said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution.
But we shouldn’t have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country’s most treasured document.
That’s why I am stopping this bill today.
But blocking a bill, not passing one, is exactly what’s needed to get our troops and mercenaries home from Iraq. It is a lie that Congress must pass a bill to end the occupation of Iraq. The occupation can be ended with an announcement by Congressional leaders that there will be no more funding. Any proposal to fund it can be blocked by 41 senators filibustering or by a single senator putting a hold on the bill. Bush has plenty of money for withdrawal and could be given more for that exclusive purpose. When your television tells you the Democrats need 60 or 67 senators to end the occupation, your television is lying to you.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could if they wanted announce today that the House and Senate will no longer bring to a vote any bills to fund anything other than withdrawal. They have many colleagues already on board with that position, not to mention two thirds of the country. It would take 218 signatures on a discharge petition to force a bill to the floor of the House without Pelosi’s approval. It is unlikely enough Democrats would oppose their party to fund Bush’s war in that way. In the Senate, Reid alone could refuse to bring a bill to the floor, or another senator could put an open or secret hold on a bill. And, while not all bills can be filibustered (appropriations bills can be, budget reconciliation bills cannot), you can hardly claim you need 60 votes to get past a filibuster without admitting that with only 41 you could launch your own filibuster and that with 51 you could defeat any bill. Once you understand the goal as blocking bills rather than passing them, the number of allies you need shrinks dramatically.
In fact, Senator Dodd has just very publicly advertised his ability to take action on Iraq in January, thereby earning the right to be president. This would be a major shift from his current proposal that we elect him president first, after which he’ll see about ending the war.
Thank Dodd and urge others to join him in blocking the FISA bill here: