Durbin: Democrats would be 'on trial for treason' if they adopted GOP's tactics

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) on Thursday admitted the "general feeling on the Democratic side" was that Republicans have so far been able to cast controversial protest votes and stall important legislation "with impunity."

He consequently seemed to suggest Republicans' behavior in Congress over the past year as hypocritical, as Democrats could never vote against important legislation and emerge unscathed.

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"Some of the votes [Republicans] cast -- we would be on trial for treason if we had voted against defense appropriations in the midst of a war," he told reporters on his way to the Senate chamber. Durbin was referring to GOP members who tried to block the defense bill out of concern that a hate crimes bill was attached to it.

"They did it with impunity," Durbin lamented.

Top Senate Democrats have long acknowledged that passing legislation within the chamber's 60-vote culture is complicated -- a process that is sure to become more difficult, they add, now that the party is without its supermajority.

However, the party's leaders seem especially fearful that voters may blame them for delays caused by Republicans' legislative tactics. Should that frustration translate into votes ahead of this year's midterm elections, some Democrats worry their numbers in Congress may be at risk.

But Durbin on Thursday the idea that Democrats ought to let legislation fail in order to prove that Republicans are to blame for stalled reforms.

"If we don't have 59 votes, and that is a requirement [to pass legislation], we're not letting them fail," Durbin said, suggesting it was not Democrats who were responsible for any delays.

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