VP Debate: No Rules Reform, but Plenty of Malarkey

Senate rules reform didn’t make it into last night’s lively vice presidential debate. But Rep. Paul Ryan, D-Wis., did offer a bit of revisionist history:

"Let's not forget that they came in with one-party control. When Barack Obama was elected, his party controlled everything," Ryan said."They had the ability to do everything of their choosing, and look at where we are right now."

In reality, Democrats only had filibuster-proof Senate majority for about 14 weeks when you factor in Al Franken’s contested election, Ted Kennedy’s illness and the winter recess.

Senate Republicans used the filibuster a record 112 times -- 18 percent of all votes – to block legislation. Causalities include the DREAM Act and energy and climate legislation. Republicans derailed debate on the Employee Free Choice Act, which overwhelmingly passed in the House and garnered 59 supporters in the Senate.  

Slate’s Matthew Yglesias pounced on Ryan’s dubious claim:

"That's nuts. In the real world, a minority of 41 senators can block almost any legislative measure. What's more, even smaller numbers of senators can create massive delays in the legislative process. The Republican caucus in 2009-10 was unusually aggressive in deploying these tools and it had a major impact on the course of legislation."

It’s time to Fix the Senate.