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View Diary: What stands in the way of "forcing" a filibuster? (251 comments)

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  •  Still Don't See What Changed (0+ / 0-)

    First off, thank you very much for pointing me in a useful direction.  From the Wikipedia page on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

    On the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) completed an address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation. Until then, the measure had occupied the Senate for 57 working days, including six Saturdays. A day earlier, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, the bill's manager, concluded he had the 67 votes required at that time to end the debate and end the filibuster. With six wavering senators providing a four-vote victory margin, the final tally stood at 71 to 29.

    Key to the passage of the Civil Rights Act were not just the congressional maneuvers, but also the public pressure, which was fed by a campaign led by Dr. Robert Hayling and Dr. Martin Luther King in St. Augustine, Florida--the "nation's oldest city"--in the Spring and summer of 1964. The graphic incidents in St. Augustine, including the arrest of Dr. King at a segregated restaurant, the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history, the arrest of the 72-year-old mother of the governor of Massachusetts, wade-ins at St. Augustine Beach, many brutal beatings, and the pouring of acid in a motel pool when an integrated group was swimming there, demonstrated for the American people the need to pass the law.

    This nicely supports two of the author's three points about the risk of filibuster, and maybe that is sufficient in the HCR case, but it doesn't seem to support the third, and that is where my confusion lies.

    Apparently, in 1964, the Senate leadership decided that it was indeed important enough to get the bill passed that they allowed absolutely everything else to be put on hold while it was being considered.  Reasonable people would differ on whether health care reform merits a similar treatment.

    It also points out that "making them actually speak" is the equivalent of "giving them the microphone indefinitely."  This was of only modest risk in 1964 when everyone pretty much knew what the deal was and they were either for it or against it.  Much less so with health care reform where one can picture a team of dozens of speechwriters, lobbyists, etc. gleefully handing notes up to the lectern to be read by whicherver Senator has the floor.  Its not like the opponents of health care reform will be helpful enough to arrest a bunch of rabbi's just to prove that they're on the wrong side of history, swaying a couple Senator's our way out of shame and disgust.

    But I am still mystified by the quorum call worry.  Its not that I doubt the author's research and knowledge.  But what I don't get is why that tactic could be used to such devastating effect today, but either wasn't available to, or wasn't used by Senator Byrd and company during their 57 day filibuster.  Did the supporters keep enough of their number on hand to survive quorum calls?  Did no one think of the tactic until after 1964?  Was it considered such an outrageous affront that even the segregationist southern bloc wouldn't use it as they fought against civil rights?

    It may not matter at all in this case.  As I said, the first two concerns may be sufficient to argue against a "real" filibuster in this case.  But I'd still love to know just what the deal is with quorum calls.

    "Specialization is for insects." L. Long

    by rrouda on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:31:05 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's a fine question (0+ / 0-)

      and I'm not sure.

      All I know is that those 57 days were simply delaying the inevitable.  The votes to break the filibuster were there, but Senators had the right to speak for a looong time, and until they were finished, no cloture vote could be called.

      I just see two different kinds of filibusters

      1.  You don't have the votes to stop it, so talk as long as possible.  You will eventually lose, like the Civil Rights era
      1.  You do have the votes to stop it, so the leadership must work with you...compromise, like the Health Care era.

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