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No labels! Get it? They'll change Congress by
kicking this can down the road to 2013.
Yes, "No Labels" is back, and this time, they say it's moderate and non-partisan thing to do to call for reform of the Senate's filibuster rules. That would have been helpful about a year ago, when people were actually talking about changing the Senate's filibuster rules. But sometimes change is slow in coming.

And of course, people are talking about reform again, now that we're right back in another endless cycle of filibusters. They never really stopped. And to be fair, some of the bigger names involved with No Labels actually did support at least some of the filibuster reform proposals. Though some of them, like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), were a little less vocal about it then than their group is now. And others, like former Sen. Evan Bayn (D-IN), were vocal, but were in the middle of retiring from public service (but transitioning into lobbying positions).

In an op-ed timed to coincide with a D.C. event launching their program, No Labels co-founder and former Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) argued that much of gridlock around presidential nominations could be easily cleared up:

There is a simple way to break up this unnecessary, and potentially costly, confirmation logjam: Give the Senate 90 days to vote on a nominee — to confirm or reject the president’s choice. If there is no vote by then, the nomination would be considered confirmed.

The problem, of course, is that this reform—and several others they propose—require changes to the Senate rules. And we all know what that means.

And so do the folks at No Labels, though they only hint obliquely at it:

These are simple, straightforward proposals to break gridlock, promote constructive discussion and reduce polarization in Congress. They can be adopted, almost all at once, when the next Congress convenes in January 2013.

Rules changes can be adopted at any time, provided there's a sufficient majority for them. Of course, what that means in the Senate isn't exactly clear. But if the Senate rules themselves are the proper guide, that means a rules change—if blocked by a filibuster—needs a 2/3 majority, or 67 in a full Senate, in order to invoke cloture and get to a direct vote on the new rule. Again, there's no reason in the world why a vote like that would have to wait for January 2013.

What would have to wait until then is an attempt to utilize the procedural window said to exist at the beginning of a new Congress, before the Senate acquiesces to the continuance of its old rules, during which time it is arguably less offensive to those old rules for new ones to be adopted under general parliamentary law, i.e., by simple majority vote.

But that's something that the so-called "Gentlemen's Agreement" from January of this year actually forbids. Which poses an interesting dilemma. And possibly explains why, while No Labels leadership does include elected Republicans, it can claim no Republican senators, past or present. In order for the No Labels call for Senate rules reform in January 2013 to make any particular sense, this group calling for bipartisan cooperation has to advocate breaking an existing bipartisan cooperation agreement.

Not that it's worth a damn, of course. The agreement, that is.

So, what's going on here? Is No Labels endorsing breaking one bipartisan agreement for the sake of greater bipartisan agreement in the future? (That'd be okay with me, I suppose.) Or are they saying they didn't really understand why January 2013 is supposed to be an important date, but thought it made their plan look more official?

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Comment Preferences

  •  It is very difficult to take No Labels seriously. (9+ / 0-)

    That's really all I have to say.

  •  This makes no sense to me. How in the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, bear83, m00finsan

    world would you expect this Congress to come to a 67 vote on making significant changes when it works to the advantage of the minority right now? This is why I think this group is a republican scam.

  •  A unicorn in every pot (n/t) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jwinIL14, annieli
  •  poor posturing (0+ / 0-)
    So, what's going on here? Is No Labels endorsing breaking one bipartisan agreement for the sake of greater bipartisan agreement in the future? (That'd be okay with me, I suppose.) Or are they saying they didn't really understand why January 2013 is supposed to be an important date, but thought it made their plan look more official?

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:23:57 PM PST

  •  I bet those ready to change things in January 2013 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83

    are the same ones who are convinced the world is ending in December 2012.

    "There's nothing in the dark that's not there when the lights are on" ~ Rod Serling

    by jwinIL14 on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:26:34 PM PST

  •  A gentlemens agreement is not an agreement (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, m00finsan, Egalitare

    it's an excuse to use to keep the dyfunctional power stucture in play...

    "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

    by skyounkin on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:28:51 PM PST

    •  Nail, meet head (0+ / 0-)

      Those who benefit most from the status quo want to keep it in place by any means necessary, including a pointless "gentleman's agreement" where Dems gave up their one and only chance to change the rules with a simple majority vote.

      "Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by bear83 on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 05:04:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You seriously think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG

    that the Republicans have upheld their side of the "gentleman's agreement?"  You must be insane!

    The thing I'm terrified of is that the Republicans will take over the Senate, because I can guarantee you they will blast away the filibuster in a few seconds, then abuse the Senate majority the exact same way they've abuse the House majority for the last 2 years.

    Worst case scenario is if they take over the Senate as well as the House and kill the filibuster...if that happens I'm moving to Australia.  Or Europe.  Anywhere but this (soon to be even more desperately) fucked up country.

    New favorite put-down: S/he's as dumb as a flock of Sarah Palins

    by sleipner on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:30:26 PM PST

  •  Why is this so hard to understand? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, bear83

    Changing the rules so that things get done is complete and total anathema to the Republican Party.

    The only solution is the destruction of the GOP.  As long as it remains a viable party, the country will go nowhere but down the tubes.

    Best solution would be a fracture of the right into Teabagger and non-Teabagger factions, which would then congeal into separate parties.

    Don't hold your breath however.

    "The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity." --W. B. Yeats

    by Pragmatus on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:32:20 PM PST

  •  Flooding the Market With Conservative Parties. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli

    We may have 5 conservative parties by next year.

    There's a recipe for super turnout.

    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 Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:32:43 PM PST

  •  this is alarming (0+ / 0-)
    Give the Senate 90 days to vote on a nominee — to confirm or reject the president’s choice. If there is no vote by then, the nomination would be considered confirmed.

    Wow. This seems like a spectacularly bad idea, sure to lead to future executive power grabs.

    One can imagine a Republican president using this to appoint federal judges (including SCOTUS) without Senate approval. Or his entire cabinet, thus bypassing the Constitution's requirements completely.

    Under this kind of rule, the president could stack the federal judiciary in a single term. All the congressional Republicans have to do is ensure vacancies in the judiciary are not filled until there's a Republican president.

    No, this rule should die a quick and well-deserved death.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:36:44 PM PST

    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

      All any president has to do, then, is to get his party to filibuster all his nominees, preventing a vote. Voila! Instant confirmation.

      This is clearly a plot by the rethuglicans who are assuming they will win big next year and want a no strings attached takeover of the US.

  •  Pass it before the election, and have it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG

    take effect in the new Congress. Maybe that way neither side will be sure who gets the benefit right away.

    "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

    by davewill on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:37:38 PM PST

  •  If you subtract congruent angles (0+ / 0-)

    from congruent angles ... then the results are  ... congruent angles!

    Never say yada yada, when ooba tooba will do.

    by Desolations Angel on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:37:53 PM PST

  •  No labels is just a front group for Repubs.... (4+ / 0-)

    ...who can't admit the hillbillies kicked them out of their party.

    The revolution will not be privatized.

    by Bush Bites on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:39:12 PM PST

  •  first link doesn't work. nt (0+ / 0-)

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 04:39:44 PM PST

  •  I guess if the common conservative is 10-30 years (0+ / 0-)

    behind the times a member of No Labels is only 5-10 years behind the times--at least it is a little better.

  •  no labels is false advertising (0+ / 0-)

    The group is advertised as focusing on solutions rather than party, but to do that you have to be willing to call out bad / bullshit policy.  Recently they promoted fixing the deficit by trimming social security benefits as a bipartisan / common sense solution.  It's a crock.  SS isn't part of our deficit concern, and so to push that is conclusive proof to me it's not an organization worth supporting.

  •  The solution to this problem lies in Reid. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pragmatus, m00finsan

    A 60 vote threshold on cloture votes on EVERY Bill is insane. Reid should be calling these obstructionist pricks bluffs and FORCE THEM TO ACTUALLY, PHYSICALLY AND VERBALLY FILIBUSTER rather than cowering at the mere threat of one. Repubs want to break for vacation, right? Near the end of the last scheduled day of this session Reid should bring the payroll tax extension Bill up for vote. When the Repubs try their standard bullshit Harry should stand up and announce that due to Republicans unwillingness to allow an up or down vote, vacation will be delayed. "Senator McConnell, you and your colleagues have threatened a filibuster...I've decided to grant you your Constitutionally rights. Have at it!"

    See how fast Bills start getting up or down votes when their filibuster bluff is constantly called on the Senate floor.

    Please Harry, make them actually speak until they pass out. Then you can actually vote for shit. It's these "gentleman's rules" that need changing, not the Constitution.

    Don't even get me started on Anonymous Holds!

    •  Forcing filibusters doesn't really work. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare

      Let's game it out.

      You're Harry Reid, and you say to me I have to filibuster.

      I say, no I don't, and suggest the absence of a quorum, which means the clerk has to start calling the roll.

      Then I go take a nap.

      So then what?

      •  A quorum requires 51 Senators (0+ / 0-)

        Dems have more than enough to have a quorum. If Repubs refuse to filibuster and leave for vacation the Bill moves forward for a majority vote. I see no problem with that.

        •  No it doesn't. (0+ / 0-)

          How does the bill move to a vote?

          Things don't just automatically come to a vote. Debate has to end first.

          And as long as someone stands up and says they want to say a few words, debate continues.

          So now I'll speak for five minutes, and then suggest the absence of a quorum again. Now you have to assemble your 51 Dems again, while I go take another nap and prepare to repeat this process when you're done pissing off your caucus.

          Your turn again.

  •  Can you say, Republican control of the Senate? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m00finsan, Egalitare

    Of course the Blue Dogs and Republicans working through the "No Labels" costume are advocating rules changes in the next Senate - they expect to control it.  

  •  Horrible idea (0+ / 0-)

    This is a stupid and horrible idea.

    Example:

    Party A holds the Executive branch and a simple majority (51/49) in the Senate. President puts forth a nominee that he knows party B will never accept. In order to get this person confirmed the Senate the majority leader (of Party A) blocks all attempts at an up or down vote of the nominee. 90 days later the President's nominee is confirmed by default.

    I don't trust anyone that calls for destroying minority rights when they are in the majority. Democrats didn't call for this when they blocked Bush appointees when they were in the minority so why would Republicans choose to allow such a change now?

    Do you really want a simple majority (51/49) or even a split 50/50 with the VP breaking ties be all that the party in power needs to pass laws or appoint nominees? That is foolish. We have enough trouble with brainless party members who always vote the party line this would only make things worse.

  •  Be careful of changes (0+ / 0-)

    Everyone should remember that sometime their party will be in the minority.

    One change to the filabuster rules that should be made is that the one filabustering should have to actually speak instead of being able to put on a hold without even showing up in the Senate.

    By the way, Senate rules can be changed by a simple majority at the beginning of a session (next session begins January 2013).

  •  No Labels (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare

    is just another way of saying "No Principles."

    I suspect they're desperately trying to establish some sort of relevancy, since some of them are undoubtedly running for office, or for re-election.

    Former NH State Senator Maggie Hassan is running for Governor. She's a Democrat, who is also part of No Labels. About 5 minutes after throwing her hat into the goobernatorial ring, she took the William Loeb/Meldrim Thomson no-tax pledge.

    She's the anointed candidate of the NHDP.

    “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” ~ Confucius

    by susanthe on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 06:55:45 PM PST

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