Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate are considering celebrating the swearing in of the 112th Congress by changing, or eliminating, the filibuster rule. The filibuster has been a tool in the Senate for more than 150 years. It is used to “hold” the Senate floor in order to prevent action on a bill; or, as others have described it – to protect “the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority.” It currently requires 60 votes to end debate and invoke cloture on a bill – the Democrats would prefer a simple 51 vote majority.
The Democrats are pushing for this rule change because they are frustrated by the outrageous partisanship and obstructionism shown by the Republicans, the minority party, in the Senate, making it very difficult for them to get their agenda through. (Does anyone have a tissue?)
Let’s tell it like it is shall we? The Democrats held a filibuster proof, 60 seat majority from January 2009 to January 2010. When Scott Brown (R-MA) won the Senate Seat last January, the Democrat majority fell to 59 seats. Since then, the Democrats have been chomping at the bit to change the rule. As the new Congress gets to work, the Senate Democrats now only hold a 53-47 seat majority. Clearly, it’s time to change the rules… because the game just got harder! (Tissue, anyone?)
I read two great pieces today – one by Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Leader, where he explains beautifully the recent history of the debate about, and the philosophy behind, changing the filibuster rule. You can read his piece in the Washington Post here.
The other, is by The Heritage Foundation’s Brian Darling, entitled Four Myths about the Filibuster. In it he describes the 4 myths that will have to be “justified” in order to change the Senate filibuster rule with a 51 vote, simple majority. That in itself makes me laugh, cry or maybe just sigh. Because, shouldn’t it take 60 votes to end debate on changing the rules of debate? You can read his terrific piece here.
Buckle up everyone…the 112th Congress is going to take us on an exciting ride!!
Tags: filibusterThis entry was posted on Thursday, January 6th, 2011 at 8:58 am and is filed under conversation featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.