Editorial: Republicans need to allow votes on legislation

Editorial Board

The Republican members of the Senate once again proved their reluctance to consider a bill that could put many unemployed Americans back to work in this sluggish economy and tackle serious fiscal issues by raising the taxes of Americans best able to afford it.

The cloture vote, which would have ended debate on the bill in the Senate, failed 50-49. For the cloture motion to pass, 60 votes were needed. No Republican voted in favor of ending their filibuster and actually going on the record as supporting a solution or rejecting a solution.

If we truly need results, not rhetoric, debate has to end at some point. Debate is good; discussion is an essential part of any democratic or republican system. Our political freedoms are predicated on an ability to come together and peacefully do what essentially amounts to talking it out.

But debate has to end for implementation of any idea to begin. As any student or academic knows, there is no achieving perfection. There is no finishing a project or paper. There is only a deadline by which your work must be submitted for review. And if you miss that deadline, you start getting docked points.

The same goes for congressional action. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry, then the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, stated in one of his ads, “We need to get some things done in this country.” This time around, in the primary race for the Republican Party’s nomination, many of the candidates tout their executive experience – from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to former Godfather’s CEO Herman Cain – as an indicator of their ability to get things done.

Just as there is a time to every season and every purpose, there is a time to talk – to do politics – and a time to act. There is a time to propose and evaluate legislation, listening to the opinions of third parties and taking their words of wisdom into account. And then there is a time to act.

If the Republicans are indeed so eager to shape the United States and its economy with their own ideas, maybe they should propose them – during debate. Instead, several Republican senators revealed their own plan for putting the economy back to work two days after they prevented anyone from voting – from staking out a position on – their president’s proposal.

If Republicans want to be taken seriously, they need not only to talk about their own ideas. They need to allow votes on the measures coming before them. If they truly want to sound like the party of the people, the party that listens to the people, they need to allow votes to take place.