Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jay Williams spoke to the East River Electric candidates forum in Sioux Falls on Wednesday and at the Mitchell Rotary Club on Thursday. In Sioux Falls, Williams knocked his opponent, Senator John Thune, for ongoing dereliction of duty:
As the third ranking member of the Republican leadership in the Senate, John Thune bears responsibility for the inability of Congress to govern. When he was elected 12 years ago, it was on the claim that Senator Daschle was an “obstructionist.” The current U.S. Senate has taken that term to a whole new level. By refusing to confirm judges, the U.S. Senate has been unfaithful to the constitution. There are 89 vacancies and 32 judicial emergencies currently in our federal court system. Judges aren’t the only area where the U.S. Senate has been derelict in its duty. In the past, the Senate has used the filibuster to block non-judicial nominees that the administration needs to carry out its duties, but this tactic has been used sparingly. It was used twice for Carter and Reagan. Bush 1 had 0, Bush 2 had 7 and Clinton had 9. However, the use of the filibuster to block President Obama’s non-judicial nominees has been unprecedented. There were 18 filibusters in his first term and in his second term the number is expected to be 28 for a total of 46 filibusters of his nominees, five times more than the previous high. This goes beyond obstructionism; it is divisive.
The current U.S. Congress is in a state of disrepair, unable to even pass emergency legislation to combat the Zika virus. With the failed leadership of the Republican controlled Congress we may see another government shutdown by the end of this month. Because of his leadership position the Senate, Senator Thune bears responsibility for the current gridlock [Jay Williams, remarks to East River Electric candidates forum, Sioux Falls, SD, 2016.09.07].
Thune sent the East River event a recorded video message because he’s working hard in Washington… on stopgap bills that would let Senators rush home after just two weeks in session to get back to campaigning:
The Senate’s scheduled to be in session through Oct. 7, but lawmakers could attempt to finish up next week.
…While senators cannot leave before passing such an agreement, Republicans facing re-election are said to be eager to leave town and get as much time as possible to campaign, especially those who are facing Democratic challengers not tied to a congressional voting schedule.
…Two sources familiar with GOP leadership’s thinking said that there are serious discussions about the Senate leaving after passing a bipartisan water resources bill and then a stopgap funding bill [Niels Lesniewski, “Senate Might Skip Town ASAP,” Roll Call, 2016.09.09].
What’s more important: passing a budget, confirming judges, tackling tax reform, and fighting Zika (without trying to gut the useful ant-Zika services of Planned Parenthood, John!), or maximizing campaign time against hungry Democrats not saddled with an “ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian” and white-nationalist candidate atop their ticket?
For Senator Thune, the answer is likely the latter, because South Dakota Republicans don’t elect him to do real work in Washington; they elect him to look pretty, raise money, and win elections.
Related Tweeting: Per Twitter, Senator Thune was back home for a concert Thursday in Brookings and a football game in Sioux Falls Saturday. Meanwhile, Williams hustled back from the Mitchell Rotary Thursday evening to speak to a full house of Augustana Democrats.
— Jay Williams (@Jay4Senate) September 9, 2016
Keep knocking on those doors, Jay and Augie Dems! Show Senator Thune that real work does pay off!