Democrats to Attempt Filibuster Power Grab

by Sal on January 4, 2011

in Election 2012,Politics

The Senate has always been a different sort of legislative body than the House.  From its earliest days, the Senate has been a far more deliberative body, and tradition gives the minority significant power.  Now, because of Democrat unhappiness with the GOP’s use of the filibuster in the 111th Congress, that tradition may be tossed out the window.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) among others, is proposing to severely limit the filibuster and limit unanimous consent rules in the Senate.  Normally, any Senate rule change requires 2/3 of the Senators to agree.  However, on the first legislative day of the session, the Senate votes on continuing the previous session’s rules.  Sen. Udall plans to object to this, and offer an amendment to the Senate rules that will in the future only require 51 Senators to change rules, require a Senator to remain on the floor while filibustering, and remove the 60-hour debate requirement to allow for cloture votes immediately after motions to proceed.

The Democrats are divided on this, and will use procedural trickery to delay the vote.  When the Senate convenes tomorrow, after initial business and swearing in, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will “recess” the Senate rather than adjourn it, for two weeks. This allows him to remain within the same “legislative day” so that a rules vote is not forced until more internal Senate negotiations can occur.

The Senate rules should be left alone.  Cloture should be used for all legislation other than those special Senate duties outlined in the Constitution (advice and consent for treaties and nominees).  However, if the Democrats do succeed in watering down the filibuster, then I say bring it on.  With the Democrats only leading the Senate by a 53-47 majority, the numbers make it highly likely that the GOP will regain the majority in 2012 (the Democrats are defending 23 seats in 2012; the GOP only 9).  If this passes, the Democrats will have achieved nothing for this term (the House, which is heavily GOP controlled still must agree to all legislation) and in the next Congress, the GOP will have new advantages to help create smaller government.

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The Democrats are Attempting to Violate Senate Rules | Axis of Right
January 5, 2011 at 8:18 am

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