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View Diary: Understanding the Republican "Nuclear Option" (185 comments)

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  •  because (none)
    Because this is the time it was used to reduce the cloture requirement.  The minority group understood that once the debate was stopped using the bare majority that there was nothing they could do but accept whatever compromise was offered.  They had no cards left to play and they had lost.  To me it wouldn't matter if the GOP offered a compromise after having Cheney stop the debate with a bare majority- the nuclear option woudl already have been invoked and the democrats would then have to decide between 50 repubs being enough to confirm a supreme court and whatever compromise the republicans chose to offer.  I guess I still don't see how you can possibly see that what happened in 1975 would be suitable for democrats in this situation.
    •  Not sure what suitable means. (none)
      But as I've stated before, I just don't read 1975 as an endorsement of the propriety of direct rulings from the chair on properly divisible or constitutional questions as methods of indirectly changing the rules or setting binding precedent.

      The Senate voted three times to table various Mansfield points of order, but never reached a conclusion on what that meant until the very end, when they reconsidered the point of order and sustained it. Was the minority negotiating from a position of duress? Maybe. Even probably. But the only precedential value to be had comes from the votes, and the final vote on interpretation of the Mansfield point of order was that it be sustained.

      What the Senate did each time they tabled the Mansfield points of order is significant. Unable to settle the question of what the tabling meant, they adjourned twice without taking further action, and the third time reconsidered and sustained Mansfield. The precedent, then, is this and no more: a majority can table a point of order. But we already knew that. What there's no precedent for, in your favor, is how to read the effect of the tabling of a point of order on a question improperly or inappropriately decided by the chair.

      That will be set anew during this debate.

      •  who has the final word? (none)
        To me it was clear that the minority in 1975 knew they were out of options.  The question of what the tabling meant would be decided by a bare majority vote.  You can look at this however you want to- thats the clear precedent for me.  The debate was stopped by a bare majority of the vote and the minority party had no other remedy.  They knew in 1975 that they set a dangerous precedent so they attempted to seal up the hole they had made- it doesn't change the fact that they had already accomplished their goal when they stopped debate using the bare majority.  
        •  If they'd truly succeeded in stopping debate... (none)
          why would a motion to adjourn carry twice?
          •  huh? (none)
            Of course they would prefer to pass the rule change with 66.  If the republicans go downt he same road you would expect them to do the same thing to reduce the political backlash.  The issue is why the minority would capitulate and accept the rule change after this episode when they wouldn't accept a rule of 60 before hand.  You honestly think it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they knew there was  nothing they could do to stop the majority once they cut off debate? You keep avoiding that point.  Once debate was cut off the majority decided to go back to the negotiating table what would have stopped them from just holding their vote?  Specifically what would have stopped them?  What remedy was in place to stop them from implementing any changes they wanted to after that?  The minority understood that they had no leverage at all after that and had to accept whatever the majority offered them.  
            •  I don't avoid the point. (none)
              I stick to what's measurable. The votes.

              Frist says the filibusters he engaged in were OK because they were pure of motive, but that Democratic filibusters are unconstitutional because they are "abusive."

              We can't know what the motives of the Senators were.  We can guess, but we can't know.

              What we don't have to guess about is how they voted, and they voted according to the rules in 1975.

              I ask the same question of you. Nothing physically prevented the majority from continuing with their vote. So why didn't they? And how was it that they lost two motions to adjourn rather than go ahead with their vote?

              But that doesn't settle the question which drove the majority to agree to adjourn and to agree to a compromise, namely: What does the motion to table really entitle us to?

              One school of thought was probably that it entitled them to proceed straight to their vote and be done with it. The other, that the motion to table entitled the majority to a debate on the merits of the Pearson procedure. Unable to settle the question, they agreed instead to adjournment -- twice -- and finally, a compromise.

              Yes, the minority was low on options. But if the majority was in the driver's seat, there must have been something stopping them from rolling through to final victory. We can't know with certainty how solid were the grounds on which their doubts rested, but that there were doubts is beyond question. Else this debate would have been over 30 years ago.

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