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View Diary: Maybe, sorta getting somewhere on secret holds (39 comments)

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  •  a novice question (2+ / 0-)
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    BMarshall, ParkRanger

    a long time ago, didn't they just make the senator with objections get up there and give it their best shot then vote after he was done with the filibuster? like when the civil rights act was debated?

    it seems if they did that, in most cases, the ranting member who held up the works in such a public way droning on about his objections would just eventually shut up and the democratic vote in the senate would take place.

    i just imagine folks trying to stop financial reform or additional stimulus trying to talk through their objections....

    •  Sort of. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Major Tom, BMarshall, ParkRanger

      We're talking at the moment about the motion to proceed, which is essentially the decision on whether or not to begin working on some particular piece of legislation or nomination. You can filibuster that as well as the legislation or nomination itself.

      But yes, years ago it was the case that whatever was being filibustered remained the "pending business" on the floor to the exclusion of anything else, unless it was withdrawn from consideration. That meant no other business could go forward until the filibuster was resolved, and that in turn meant that conducting a filibuster meant holding the floor continuously.

      A few things have changed since then. First, the invention of the "two track" system, which allows for unfinished business to be set aside without withdrawing it from consideration, meaning that something being filibustered can be frozen in place, and the Senate can move on to something else instead. That was good for getting other business taken care of, but bad in the sense that you no longer really had to stay on your feet forever to block a vote. You just had to be able to credibly threaten to do so if they ever came back to the bill you were filibustering.

      The other development has been the move away from the filibuster as the individual act of a Senator with deep, personal opposition to a measure, and toward the use of the filibuster as a political tactic by an entire caucus. With the assistance of dozens of colleagues, it's now possible to conduct filibusters (especially these quasi-filibusters created by the two track system) on virtually everything, such that it's feasible to simply filibuster everything your political opponents propose, whether you disagree with it or not.

      Together, those developments have pretty much destroyed the whole thing. By which I mean the Senate.

      •  You're Right (0+ / 0-)

        The filibuster maneuver provides enormous power to the "Do Nothings." And that has great consequences. For example, the Democratic Party will never be able to create a "green economy" here in America, or pass a "substantive climate control bill." That is because the crude oil center of America is located in the Republican controlled South, while the Major shale oil producers are located in the Republican controlled Midwest and the Rocky Mountain States. Moreover, these three geographic areas control approximately 44 Senate votes, which is more than enough to sustain even the threat of a filibuster.  

        You know, when history finally records the reasons why the 2010 elections turned out they way they did, it won't just be: "It was the economy and lack of jobs, stupid."  It will also be: "It was the threat of filibusters, stupid."    

      •  Thanks for the details! (0+ / 0-)

        I need to read up on this mess a little more.

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