Wednesday, July 06, 2005

House, Senate, and Governor

Let's be honest about Minnesota's partial government shutdown. In 2003, DFL Senator John Hottinger compromised with Governor Pawlenty and the Republican-led House to pass a budget. As a result, Senator Hottinger lost his position as majority leader. Even if Senator Dean Johnson, the new majority leader, were inclined to compromise with Republicans, political reality prevents him from doing so.

The "do nothing" approach has been successful for the Democrat Farmer Laborer party. Recall that in 2004, the Senate adjourned without taking action on a bonding bill and many other pieces of legislation. The voters could not express their displeasure with the Senate, as they were not up for election last year. Instead the State House, with its large Republican majority, felt voters' wrath.

There was one piece of business that the 2004 DFL Senate was able to finish before adjourning. Fifteen months after former Minnesota Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke was nominated, the Senate voted to deny her confirmation. Although they had passed her agenda, they voted to kick her out of office on a straight party-line vote. Senator Dean Johnson had broken his promise not to bring up her nomination unless there were sufficient votes to confirm Yecke. Then he lied about making the promise in the first place. There is a belief that one of the reasons for the rejection was that Yecke is a rising star in national Republican circles.

What does all of this have to do with the current partial government shutdown? Simple. The DFL has an incentive to torpedo the legislative session and a history of doing so. DFL leaders compromise with Republicans at their peril. There is also a move to tarnish the reputation of rising stars within the Republican party, whether it is Governor Pawlenty, Miguel Estrada, or Cheri Pierson Yecke.

Will we let them get away with it?


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