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View Diary: Frist to change Senate filibuster rules (137 comments)

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  •  what it would take to make it happen (none)
    The democrats used this method in 1975 to change the filibuster requirement from 66 to 60 with a bare majority.  As long as the republicans have 50 votes, they can pass this at any time they want to and they are on completely solid legal footing.  Specter is already on board with the rule change, collins, snowe, and chaffee are supposedly against it (which is why they couldn't do it last year) but I don't have any link proving that.  Even if all 3 are against it, the democrats would still need 3 more republicans to oppose it and I just don't see it.  

    One other thing to note- Byrd, Leahy, Kennedy, and Inouye all voted for the nuclear option when it passed in 1975.  

    •  Is this something where (none)
      Cheney could cast a tie-breaking vote? or if it's 50-50, does the motion just fail?  Just wondering.
      •  ties (none)
        The VP could cast a tiebreaking vote.  The democrats would need to switch 6 republicans to shut it down.  Of course, the republicans wouldn't try and pull it if there was a chance it was going to go down in flames.  

        It should also be pointed out that there isn't any reason for the republicans to eliminate the filibuster alltogether.  Likely they would just set the rule so the first cloture vote still takes 60- the second cloture vote would only take 55- and so on until eventually it would get to a straight up or down vote.  Originally a filibuster was just supposed to be for when senators thought there wasn't enough debate on a subject, it has turned into a way to block action over time.

        •  But what if (none)
          The VP isn't there? I think if it was just 50-50 it dies, without the VP present to cast a tie-breaking vote.

          Would that mean that Cheney would want to be there in any situation where the Democrats might try to filibuster a judge?

          •  no.... (none)
            The republicans would only have to change the rules once- then the filibuster for judicial nominees would be gone forever.  Cheney would probably preside over the senate that day just because its a mommentus occasion and its not like putting this into action is going to lower his polling numbers with democrats any more.  So the republicans would let the democrats filibuster judges (they are already filibustering 10 of them), and have Cheney come out one day to preside over the senate. He would probably make a speech about how this was done by democrats in 1975 and have quotes from the 4 members of the senate at the time in favor of it.  He would declare a judicial emergency and they would have a simple up or down vote on the filibuster rules for judicial nominations.  There wouldn't be any need for him to ever be there again after the rules have changed.
            •  Well thats what I mean (none)
              he would have to be there on the day frist does it for him to cast the tie-breaking vote.

              Of course, if for whatever reason he wasn't there, Frist would probably just allow them to filibuster until Cheney hops on a plane and gets there.

              •  well... (none)
                They day they change the rule they would know well in advance.  Its not like the republicans would have to preemptively do this.  They could wait until the democrats have already filibustered 15 or 20 judges including a supreme court justice (frankly I don't know if the dems can get 40 to filibuster a supreme but that is a different diary) then pull this to resolve the deadlock.  But the republicans control the schedule on invoking the nuclear option, its not like this is something that the democrats can pull whenever they want.  And the only time Cheney NEEDS to be there is if its a tie.  Other than that he would just be there because its a historic moment.
                •  Could the Dems just refuse to show in the Senate (none)
                  and cause there to be no quorum?

                  Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. -- Robert F. Kennedy

                  by LionelEHutz on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 01:58:25 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  asdf (none)
                  if somebody as far-right as Robert Bork is nominated, you'll see at least 40 dems line up for a filibuster ... (not that bork himself is likely - too old - but there are other Federalist Society uber-recht legal scholars who could provoke this kind of reaction)

                  vote early - vote often

                  by wystler on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 01:59:19 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  filibuster of a supreme (none)
                    The republicans have 55 votes now.  I don't think that Nelson from Nebraska, Conrad from North Dakota, or Nelson from Florida could participate in a filibuster and keep their seat in 06.  The democrats would just be walking a fine line even with the 60 vote requirement.  I don't think democrats will filibuster when it is Rehnquist being replaced (No nominee is going to move the court further left with a republican president and a 55 seat majority) but when O'Connor goes I have no idea what will happen.
                    •  And (none)
                      Baucus and Bayh are not exactly reliable votes either.  Carper, Landrieu, and Lincoln could also be worrisome, but I think we'll hold them.

                      Feingold has also been weird on appointment filibuster's in the past, but that might have just been for Cabinet positions.

                      Hey, on the bright side, at least we don't have to worry about Miller or Breaux anymore!

                      I miss Wellstone - he would have really gone nuclear over this.

                      lib-er-al: Open to new ideas for progress; tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; not limited to or by established, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes.

                      by DCescapee on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 02:33:34 PM PST

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                      •  Feingold (none)
                        When he agreed to let Ashcroft pass, he explicitly said he distinguished the Cabinet confirmation process from that for Judges and US Attorneys for the respective Judicial Districts.

                        Your Blunder War is showing.

                        by ben masel on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 02:51:25 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Good (none)
                          I thought the was the case.

                          But now that I think about it, that was more about letting nominees through committee then it was about filibustering them.

                          Hopefully he doesn't have any maverick ideas about the filibuster.

                          lib-er-al: Open to new ideas for progress; tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; not limited to or by established, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes.

                          by DCescapee on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 03:12:33 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  Bayh (none)
                        Bayh is one to watch.  IF he is serious about running for president he will look for a high profile issue to break with democrats on to shore up his centrist credentials and increase his name recognition.  I don't think he would go against the whole party for a supreme court nomination - thats cutting awfully close to roe, but its an issue on paper that would be about as high profile as he could expect.
                        •  But (none)
                          to play Devil's Advocate, one could also argue that he knows he has to run to the left of his natural views in order to win a primary.

                          I can see it playing out either way.

                          lib-er-al: Open to new ideas for progress; tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; not limited to or by established, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes.

                          by DCescapee on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 03:15:25 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, (none)
                IIRC isn't the vote on whether to reverse the parliamentary ruling?  If that's the case, a 50-50 vote loses (if the VP is not there), and the new filibuster rule goes into effect. So they wouldn't need even Cheney.

                Not that it really matters.

                I vaguely recall this question the last time there was a major parliamentary issue (a couple years ago when the Senate was 50-50).  The Republican-appointed parliamentarian wouldn't play ball, and Lott forced him out.

                lib-er-al: Open to new ideas for progress; tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; not limited to or by established, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes.

                by DCescapee on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 02:18:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  McCain (none)
      McCain, I think, has already come out against this.  I think his statement went something like: "It would be a good idea if you could guarantee a Republican majority, but I'm afraid this could come back to haunt us."

      "Well... you could always hang yourself!"

      by Jugwine on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 01:02:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the problem (3.71)
        I think McCain understand the value of the filibuster, but demcorats already used this option once to unilaterially change the filibuster rules, how can he trust them not to use it again when they are in the majority?  Even if republicans wanted to compromise and make the filibuster for judicial nominations 57 or 55, there would be no way to ensure that democrats wouldn't just lower that number when they had a 52 seat majority. You know that people here would be clamoring for them to use the nuclear option if the republicans were filibustering a liberal supreme court justice.  I think he understands it would be better if they didn't go down this road, but really the republicans would be counting on democrats deciding not to do this when they had the opportunity, and considering the downward spiral the confirmation process is going through I just don't see why the republicans woudl hold off they can pass it off in the public as the democrats being overly obstructionist.  

        I think the only recouse Democrats have is to be completely unobstructionist on most issues- even to the point of allowing estrada to get on the DC court of appeals so that the few times they do filibuster they can shout to the rooftops about how accomodating they ahve been.  Public opinion really is the battle that democrats have to win.

        •  a zero rating!? (none)
          Are you kidding me?  Someone troll rated me for this post?  What did I say that was the least bit inflamatory?  This post was all about advancing the conversation.  If you zero rated this post you really need to get a thicker skin.
        •  Won't work. (none)
          They can be accommodating on every issue but one, and with that one issue the right would paint Dems as anti-American obstructionists who only care about their partisan politics and don't give a damn about America. The media would buy it and the public would buy it. Look at what they've been buying over the last several years. We definitely need to build a better media machine.

          The further downside is that they get more of their bills through Congress with our cooperation. We may not be able to stop them, but if we can slow them down maybe we still have the right to leave our homes after dark by the time 2008 rolls around.

          Fight them every inch of the way. If life, liberty and justice aren't worth fighting for, then what the hell is this all about?

          Also, if we constantly fight them and occasionally cooperate, then that cooperation would be the exception and would receive more media coverage. The average day-to-day stuff does not get noticed. The exception to the rule gets the air time.

          •  obstrution (none)
            the ONLY thing keeping the republicans from pulling the lever on this would be a public backlash.  They are on solid legal footing, they apparantly have the votes, and they have no reason to leave the rule in place for when they are in the minority because the democrats have this option as well.  The only reason not to do this would be if the public saw that the democrats were working with Bush, but the president was just exceptionally greedy and wasn't satisfied with 80% of he agenda and wanted 100%.  If the democrats are trying to keep Bush to 50% of his agenda against a 55 seat republican majority I just don't see people being all that upset about it.  But you could certainly be right, that this is the last stand and public opinion be damned.
            •  Or... (none)
              We could start the public debate now - make it the (second) stinkiest topic for them to handle and start framing the argument before they do.
              •  absolutely (none)
                The other thing that could cost them seats is if people don't want republicans to have complete control of the federal government.  Maybe tie the filibuster to being the emergency brake.  
                •  something like (none)
                  republicans already have the keys to the car- do you really want to remove the emergency brake when we are already going downhill?

                  The only problem is that Bush has picked up senate seats in both of his elections since becoming president which I think is a pretty unprecedented thing.  Historically I think people have tended to favor gridlock, but Bush has managed to pick up seats somehow.

        •  You assume (none)
          that there will ever be an opportunity when the Democrats again hold the majority.

          I wish I could be that optimistic, but I can't help think the GOP's goal is a one-party-dominated state, like Mexico used to be under the PRI.

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