I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but sometimes an item is worth sharing whether I have much to add or not. So…
Quoted for truth:
User B.R. writes in:
“…everyone (media and blogs alike) are treating the filibuster as a far more commonplace occurrence than it should be. Part of the reason for this is that the GOP has learned to use the procedural filibuster (as allowed for them by Senate Rule 22 from 1975) for everything, and Reid gives in and calls for cloture…”
B.R. raises several interesting points, but they ultimately point back to one thing: Harry Reid has been exceptionally ineffective as the Democrats’ majority leader.
The number of cloture votes skyrocketed in the 110th Congress following the Democratic takeover of the Senate and Reid’s assumption of the majority leader position. The Senate voted on 112 cloture motions in the 110th, exactly double the number (56) of cloture votes in the 109th Congress, and two-and-a-half times as many as the average number of cloture votes (44) over the previous nine Congresses.
…a majority of these cloture motions were in fact triggered by Republican floor action, and the vast majority of them were also procedural filibusters — the actual filibuster, in which Mitch McConnell wets his pants while reading from the phone book for 19 hours, is now exceedingly rare.
There are basically two mechanisms that a majority leader can employ to limit filibusters: firstly, he can threaten to block votes on certain of the opposition party’s legislation (or alternatively, present carrots to them for allowing a vote to proceed), and secondly, he can publicly shame them. Reid managed to do neither, and the Senate Republicans did fairly well for themselves considering that they were in a minority and were burdened by a President with negative political capital.
So long as Obama’s approval ratings remain strong, it’s somewhat likely that he will exact enough public pressure on moderate Republicans like Susan Collins to force a majority vote on broadly popular issues like health care, whether or not Collins ultimately votes ‘aye’ on the underlying measure. In those cases, the 60 vote threshold may be overrated. On other issues like the Employee Free Choice Act on which Democrats have been less effective at framing the public debate, the 60-vote threshold may be more tangible.
The bottom line, however, is that the Republicans are filibustering more and more often because they can get away with it. If Reid can’t get them to pay a greater public price, then the Democrats ought to find somebody else who can.
Damn straight. Take it to heart, folks. This is why people say leadership matters.Tags: filibusters, Obama, Reid, Republicans, Senate