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View Diary: Elizabeth Warren argues strongly for filibuster reform (222 comments)

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  •  Why is Jan. 1st special? (4+ / 0-)

    Can anyone clarify why a 51 person majority is all they need on Jan 1st, as opposed to any other day?  Thanks.

    •  It isn't really (6+ / 0-)

      The nuclear option fracas from 2005 proved that a majority really can get rid of the filibuster any time in the legislative calendar.

      But this filibuster reform effort relies on defining the Senate like any other legislature as a non-continuing body, which means it needs to adopt its rules at the start of every legislative session.  That means, on the first day, there is no rule 22, no filibuster until the majority adopts the rules.  That this is done by majority vote is an unwritten constitution thing derived from Parliament, the underlying basis of pretty much all legislative bodies.

      So if they have no rules and actually adopt the previous Senate's rules by majority vote, they can also adopt a different set of rules by majority vote.

      Another aspect of this is the understanding that no Parliament can bind any future parliament.  So the legislators voting today to make some rule and saying it binds all future legislatures, and requires some high bar (like 2/3rd support) to change it is inherently invalid.  The next Parliament is free to abandon that rule by simple majority rule because they too, are Parliament and the current Parliament is always supreme.

      I happen to agree with all this, but really the nuclear option thing makes waiting for this once-in-two years moment silly.  

    •  they're all hung over - it's our best chance (4+ / 0-)

      heh.

      actually it's when they set new rules for the new Senate (the 113th Senate or whatever it is). these rules hold for two years, till the next one.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:43:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The start of each new Congress.. (5+ / 0-)

      Each branch of Congress is allowed to make its own rules under the Constitution, but these rules don't carry over from one Congress to the next.

      So once every two years, when a new Congress begins, each chamber can (technically) vote by simple majority to continue the rules from the previous one, make changes, or use a new set of rules entirely.

      Just a quick note.. I don't believe there has been any ruling from the Supreme Court about this, which is why it's being considered as an option.  Republicans have used similar reasoning in previous years for touting the 'nuclear option', which just plain breaks the Senate's own rules of the chamber in the middle of a session rather than changing them at the start.

      •  Nuclear option (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ferg, Neon Mama, MPociask

        What it really does is uses the Senate as its own internal "supreme court" of whether its own rules are compliant with the US Constitution.

        So in principle you can argue a rule that requires 3/5th concurrence to pass bills is unconstitutional given the Vice-President's assigned power of tie-breaking.

        If a rule is unconsitutional, it should be struck down.  Who decides?  Well, the Senate.  How do they decide?  Majority rule, and relying on the constitution explicitly assigning each chamber of congress the power to determine their own rules.  In theory this should mean the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction and should never touch a Senate rule dispute.

        The logic is actually sound in my view.  The only supermajority requirements that can not be overridden are the ones explicitly in the Constitution - treaties and impeachment convictions.

      •  I doubt the Supreme Court (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse

        would get in the middle of the Senate setting its own rules.

        There is no Constitutional issue here - the filibuster is purely an internal Senate rule.

        The Supreme Court getting involved would be like the Senate trying to write laws that dictated the internal workings of the judicial branch.

        It isn't going to happen.

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