Time for Filibuster Reform Next Week

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I read this incredibly misleading headline in the Arizona Daily Star today, Sens. McCain, Levin lead plan to impose limits on filibusters. This AP article is full-o'-crap.

If you want to know what the McCain-Levin proposal is really all about, Jonathan Bernstein has collected several articles explaining it at the Plum Line.

1. The cliff is important, but so is filibuster reform. Paul Kane and Ed O’Keefe explain the McCain-Levin bipartisan reform proposal.

2. Ezra Klein on McCain-Levin: “If you think the Senate is pretty much working well as is … then this is the proposal for you.”

3. Congressional scholar Steve Smith:
“On balance, at least on first impression, this looks like a better
deal for the minority Republicans than for the majority Democrats.”

4. And congressional scholar Sarah Binder: “Incremental procedural change is all a polarized Senate will agree to if Democrats are skittish about going nuclear.”

5. Senate reformers are, not surprisingly, not happy at all with the offer, as Sahil Kapur reports.

6. I’m less negative about the proposal than some seem to be, perhaps because I also don’t think that Senate reformers are on the right path, either.

7. Does Tom Udall have 51 votes lined up anyway? That’s what he says, Alexander Bolton reports.

Jonathan Bernstein also posted this important piece earlier, Cloture votes do not equal filibusters:

Cloture votes do not equal filibusters. Cloture votes do not equal filibusters.

One more time: Cloture votes do not equal filibusters.

Learn it. Use it. Cloture votes do not equal filibusters.

* * *

In 2009, there were a record sixty-seven filibusters in the first half
of the 111th Congress — double the number of filibusters that occurred
in the entire twenty-year period between 1950 and 1969. By the time the
111th Congress adjourned in December 2010, the number of filibusters had
swelled to 137 for the entire two-year term of the 111th Congress.

That is utterly wrong. In the historic 111th Congress, Sen. Mitch
McConnell and the Republicans decided to create a 60-vote Senate, which
meant that 60 votes were needed on absolutely everything. Which means
that they filibustered every single bill, every single nomination, every
single amendment, even every single motion, or at least all those for
which the Senate rules allowed them to force a 60-vote supermajority
. It
wasn’t 137 filibusters; it was far, far more.

* * *

In the last two Congresses, when Republicans have filibustered
absolutely everything, it’s no longer a useful way to measure it; a much
better way is to just say 100%.

Cloture votes do not equal filibusters. Everyone should stop using them as if they do.

The Senate rules have been abused to nullify the Constitution by creating an undemocratic super-majority legislative body, which is just another way of describing a tyranny of the minority exercising veto power over simple majority rule, the very essence of a democratic system.

I am deeply disappointed in Senator Levin, whom I generally respect, but who is sometimes enthralled with the arcane procedures of the Senate. I say its time to restore simple majority rule and government that functions. Go nuclear!

This also requires that Republicans must abandon the equally unconstitutional "Hastert Rule," i.e., majority of the majority procedural rule in the House, which originated with the disgraced former Speaker Newt Gingrich (the Speaker will not allow a vote on a bill to take place unless the majority of the majority party supports the bill). Under the current makeup of the GOP majority in the House, this gives a minority of Tea Party loons veto power over simple majority rule — Democrats and moderate Republicans combined.

Ditch the unconstitutional senate Filibuster Rules and the equally unconstituional Hastert Rule in the House, and maybe the next 113th Congress will actually be functional. The 112th "less-than-do-nothing" Tea-Publican Congress has been the "Worst. Congress. Ever."

UPDATE: Steven Perlstein comments on the "fiscal cliff" compromise, Congress tries democracy for a change!

What happened yesterday was that things worked the way the framers of
the Constitution imagined they would work. The Senate took up a bill
without unanimous consent, debated and acted on it without the losers
resorting to a filabuter. And the House reverted to majority rule. By
honoring his promise to the president and Senate Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring up any Senate-passed bill, Boehner (R-Ohio)
agreed to set aside the “majority of the majority” standard and allowed a
centrist, bipartisan coalition to work its will — in this case over the
objection of a majority of the Republican caucus.

This is the template for doing difficult things in Congress. In fact it, is the only template.

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