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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Filibustering Everything isn't Governance

Ezra Klein offers a little perspective on today's special election in Massachusetts.

If Scott Brown wins today, Democrats go from having the largest Senate majority since the 1970s to...the second largest Senate majority since the 1970s. They go from 60 votes for health-care reform to 59. Republicans haven't had a majority this large in generations.

"It's evidence of how thoroughly we've internalized rule-by-filibuster that this is even a big deal in terms of short-term legislating," he writes.

Damned straight. Why is 60 such a big deal? Because Republicans have been filibustering everything and, in the process, have made the Senate a hopeless mess of partisan sniping and idiocy. Almost nothing passes on a simple majority vote. Democrats really need to talk about this more... scratch that, they should talk about it all the damned time. They should make Republicans do it the old-fashioned way and, when the filibuster starts, bust out the cots and make them talk all night. If that's political theater, so be it -- it's a play everyone should see, every time a Republican filibuster comes up.

If the average person realized just how obstructionist and dickish Republicans have become, they'd find themselves about as popular as the measles.


Cladari said...

I don't think filibuster means what you think it means. There is no need to actually speak to conduct a filibuster.

See Senate rule 22.

You are welcome

Anonymous said...

fyi both sides use this tactic

Anonymous said...

@Cladari Rule 22 is in place so that a filibuster can be executed without actually having to bust out the cots. The point of this article is that rule 22 works only so long as both sides agree that they do not want to go through the trouble of busting out said cots. Democrats could force republicans to do some actual talking.

Both rule 22 and the classical filibuster move are admittedly unconstitutional. See "The Nuclear Option" for further details.

You are welcome

Wisco said...


20th century and the emergence of cloture.

You are welcome.

John Salmon said...

Hard to see how blocking unpopular, disastrously expensive legislation-as in this case-is a bad idea, but I agree that filibustering is, on the whole, overused.

Of course, it's overused by both parties. Will the Democrats agree to change the rules so they'd have to sleep on cots when the next Republican President comes along and they want to filibuster?

Jay Klauss said...

This is a great blog post. And to anonymous SMACKING DOWN Cladari - well done my friend.

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