Jack Conway goes after the filibuster while Republicans criticize Conway for tax "flip-flop"

08/18/2010 10:16 AM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway’s latest campaign tactic is to paint his Republican opponent Rand Paul as an obstructionist-in-waiting. He warns voters in an online video that electing Paul to the Senate — which allows individual Senators to delay and block legislation using filibusters — could ground policy debates to a halt.

“Can you imagine adding Rand Paul to the ‘party of no?’” Conway asked rhetorically in the video, which his campaign posted on Youtube and tweeted about Wednesday morning. The video also advertises that Conway supports legislation to reform the filibuster tactic, in which a senator can essentially block a vote on legislation unless a constitutional majority — more than 60 votes — overrides the filibuster.

The Republican Party, meanwhile, has accused Conway of doing an about-face with his position on whether Congress should extend tax cuts approved during George W. Bush’s administration.

So Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race is now getting into meat-and-potato policy issues.

Here’s the Conway campaign’s filibuster video:

Democrats have offered a renewed push for filibuster reform since the beginning of the Congressional break this August, according to national publications such as Time Magazine. And, as the Time article points out, the Senate could vote to change its rules and ice the filibuster with a simple majority before the next session of Congress begins in January. Making such a change has been kicked around for much of the year, with bills filed on the issue last January. But, as The Hill reported, the likelihood of passage seemed slim at the time.

Republicans effectively have used the filibuster to try to control the tempo of the Senate since that party has been in the minority after the 2006 elections. In fact, as McClatchy’s Washington bureau reported, they used the tactic at a historic rate starting in 2007.

Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has often boasted that the minority party in the U.S. Senate is the most powerful legislative minority in the world because it needs just 40 votes to put the brakes on any debate. He has often quoted President George Washington, who famously likened the Senate to a tea cup’s saucer in which legislation that left the U.S. House could go to cool.

Conway, meanwhile, is coming under fire from Paul and the Republicans for apparently changing his position on the Bush era tax cuts to middle income and wealthy Americans (as well as the suspension of the estate tax), as the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Conway, this summer, has said he wants to see most of the cuts extended for five, eight or even 10 years, as he told cn|2 Politics. But, as the political site PageoneKentucky.com pointed out, he had a different answer during the Democratic primary this spring when the Courier-Journal asked him about the cuts.

- Ryan Alessi


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