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60 votes?  Why have the Senate Republicans chosen to mount a filibuster to block an economic stimulus bill in the midst of the worst national economic downturn since the Great Depression?
And why hasn't one single news story (to my knowledge) pointed out that the Republicans are using an extraordinary procedural measure here?  (Just saying that the bill "needs 60 votes" isn't pointing out that the Senate GOP is filibustering the bill).

The ordinary rules of the Senate require a simple majority to pass a bill -- so, out of 100 Senators, 51 votes are required.  (Actually, the Dems only need 50 because the Vice President presides over the Senate and can break a tie, according to the Constitution, so if it is a 50-50 tie Joe Biden would cast the tie-breaking vote for the Democratic position).

The 60-vote requirement only applies if the minority (here, the Republicans) filibuster.  They used to have to stand there and continue the debate without a break, refusing to yield the floor to a member of the opposition, and "talk it to death" -- i.e., hold the floor in debate until the majority gave up.  The only way to cut off debate was by a motion (called a "cloture motion," to close debate) that required 60 votes to pass.  Some years ago, however, the Senate streamlined its procedures to do away with the requirement for members to actually stand on the Senate floor and talk a bill to death.  Now, the minority party only needs to announce its intention to invoke the 60-vote supermajority required to break a filibuster, and the majority party must then pass a cloture motion with 60 votes.

All of this is understood by the Senators (and the political reporters who regularly cover the Hill), but it is still an extraordinary procedure.  Normally, only fifty votes are required to pass a bill in the Senate.
So why aren't any of the news stories even bothering to mention that the reason that 60 votes are required to pass this bill is because the Senate Republicans invoked the extraordinary 60-vote requirement for this bill?

The Senate GOP invoked that extraordinary requirement for an economic stimulus bill in the midst of the worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression.  That certainly seems to me like a fact worthy of note in the coverage.

Our so-called "liberal media" at work.

Originally posted to twcollier on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 02:56 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for pointing out the extraordinary measure? (17+ / 0-)

    Somebody ought to be telling people that what the GOP is doing here is not the normal course of business in the Senate.

  •  I admit it. (6+ / 0-)

    My opposition to the Senate filibuster rule is purely situational.

  •  Why expect the repugs to support (5+ / 0-)

    the Stimulus bill...they are practicing obstructionist politics as always when the Democrats are in power.  They yell "Bipartisan" the same way a child yells "that's not fa..i..irrr" but they have no intention of practicing bipartanship if it means making any compromise on their part.  They do not seem to realize that they lost...or maybe they DO...they are already posturing for the next election.  They need to wake up.  I have spent all day listening to the filibusteral debates and have written McCain and Graham to stop impeding progress in cleaning up the mess they made during the last 8 years.

    The entertainment news networks are worthless with their inane parroting of partisan politics.  The stations appear to have requirements for "no brains" to be able to play at newscasting.

    Where were they with all of their indignant questions during the reign of terror of the last 8 years?

    "As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever." -- Clarence Darrow

    by Bluedoc on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 03:07:54 PM PST

  •  Make 'em stand up and read the phone book (8+ / 0-)

    or the Bible, I say. I'd gladly see a return to the "real filibuster"--one that can't be done by a straw poll in a cloakroom.

    If it bogs down the Senate, then so be it. It's not like they can get anything meaningful done under a  60-vote rule anyway.

    Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

    by TerribleTom on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 03:08:50 PM PST

  •  Let's call Harry Reid and MAKE him use the rules (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluedoc, Sanuk, manwithnoname, UneasyOne

    properly.  We are a deep crisis.  No more Mr. Nice, make them get up there and tell the American people why they are fiddling while the country falls apart.

  •  Deficit? (0+ / 0-)

    I have the impression that there is a Senate rule requiring 60 votes for legislation that increases the deficit without offsetting cuts.

  •  They use filibuster all the time, and it is now (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, MazeDancer, Bluedoc, ER Doc

    incorporated into the normal legislative practices of the U.S. Senate. In my opinion, it abrogates the legislative majority provisions of the Constitution, and it should be removed or outlawed.  

    I view this as one means by which DC insiders retain their control of the process -- if they don't agree with something, the run to the minority party and institute blocking action.  

  •  Thanks for the diary. I needed a refresher on (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MazeDancer, Bluedoc, eroded47095, fokos

    Government 101. (that's not snark)

  •  Maybe Senator Snowe should read the constitution. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, Bluedoc, maryru, ER Doc, UneasyOne

    She just told Tweety "that was the brilliance of the founding fathers" when he asked why did it take 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate. It's a self-induced Senate rule stupid!

    I am perpetually amazed at the "cluelessness" of out elected representatives. Surely she knows different, but gets on the TV and goes stupid.

  •  I hate the republicans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they are so f****g stupid

  •  I am reminded of the episode of Star Trek (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, Bluedoc, ER Doc

    A Taste of Armageddon in which planetary conflict continued for 500 years because the warring planets had so sanitized the conflict with computers and voluntary human disintegration that they had forgotten the grisly consequences of a real war.

    The Senate rules have made real filibuster unnecessary.  Scenes such as the filibuster from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are now just a quaint memory.  The Republicans have only to express the intent to filibuster and never have to follow through.   They have forgotten the physical ordeal of holding the Senate floor for hours on end.  While the cloture rules may have expedited legislation, it also made it much easier for a minority to block legislation since there are few consequences of expressing the intent to filibuster.

  •  I'm not sure, but I vaguely remember the Dems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    fillibustering a couple of times when we were in the minority.

  •  This little nugget needs to be as a subtitle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on DailyKos. I bet even people around here are so used to the 60 vote threshold now that have "forgotten" that it takes only 51(/50) votes to pass legislation.
    Every time I listen to the nutcases in the media they mention the 60 vote threshold. It's like brainwashing people until they accept it as reality. Once Republicans are back in power the media will obviously "remember" how it used to be.

  •  Dems could have blocked the 2001 & 03 tax cuts! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Republicans had only 51 and 53 votes respectively in 2001 and 2003. The Democrats could have blocked the tax cuts and the government would be in much better fiscal shape today to deal with the crisis!

  •  Please..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The senate is designed for consensus, not partisanship.  They have rules which allow a minority to prevent legislation, something both parties, when in the minority,  use regularly.

    It used to be that 2/3 of the Senate were required to overturn a filibuster, something ended when Robert Byrd was Majority leader, many decades ago.

    And there is still the tradition of the secret hold, where one individual can prevent a bill from moving forward.  Now that's something that is unconscionable.

    But, trying to depict a long time tradition of the Senate as something extraordinary just isn't being accurate.

    •  There was a time when a single (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Senator could filibuster all by himself, without any other votes.

      But Republicans seem a lot more aggressive about the rules than Democrats. In 2005, they would have eliminated the filibuster altogether just to push through some judicial appointments. And yet a financial crisis is far more important than a judicial appointment, yet Democrats have nary a peep about eliminating the filibuster here.

      •  Their attempt was specific to judicial .... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        nominations.  Senators value the right of the minority to prevent legislation as it gives them continuing power even when they are in the minority.

        And some of these people are there for decades, so they are sometimes in the maj. and other times not.

        They would'nt really want to eliminate it.

        •  And yet judicial (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          appointments happened to be one of the most important thing to the GOP base at the time... probably THE most important thing.

          So why can't Dems eliminate the filibuster "specific to countercyclical fiscal bills"?

          Bending over backward on rules just keeps raising the bar higher. Since the Senate is apportioned as one state one vote, and more smaller states are solid GOP, that just piles structural disadvantage on top of structural disadvantage for the Dems. We have no idea how lucky we are to be close to 60 seats.

          •  There Hasn't BEGUN to Be Enough Time To See How (0+ / 0-)

            big Roberts and Alito will turn out to be.

            Why can't? It's corporate power. It may not be a center-right electorate, but it's a center-right to solid right nation everything taken together.

            If the country has been backed into a corner where it needs a liberal policy, it's going to have to pay the consequences.

            We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

            by Gooserock on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 04:23:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I love your diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am all for FORCING these clowns to filibuster.  If they want to play it like that then let them.  It will only show them as the Partisan Pigs they are.  I am sick and tired of PUNK AZZ Harry Reid curling up in the middle of the Senate Floor with his thumb in his mouth every time the ReTHUGS say they will filibuster.  Harry doesn't seem t realize that he is in control.

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