Monday, February 9, 2009

60 votes in Senate

It seems the Stimulus bill now has garnerred enough support to pass the magical 60 vote threshold in the Senate. Instead of requiring a simple majority of 51 to pass legislation, the Senate has standing rules that allow any Senator to debate an issue endlessly unless 60 senators agree to end debate. So in effect there is almost always a need for a majority to deal with the other side because there is rarely more than 60 senators in one party (right now Democrats have 56 + 2 independents) or more importantly 60 votes on any controversial issue.

I remember just a few years ago when Republicans controlled all branches of government and seemed to be on the verge of being a permanent majority. They were frustrated by this Filibuster rule and took steps to change it. I was against changing the Filibuster for Judges then, and I support the Senate rules today. This is so even though a minority is clearly working against the wishes of a majority of the body.

But where are the apologies from those who through their own hubris wanted to change the rules as though they would never need them. It's not even a decade later and most of the same people are still in place, albeit in different power positions, now they are the minority.

The Gang of 12 saved the Republicans from changing the Senate rules to help President Bush get through right wing judges. The Republican base was furious at them. But now no one on our side can seriously challenge the rule because we were right then, and would be wrong now.

But it is still worthy of notice.

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