Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Senate Republicans, he said, have employed the filibuster more over the past year than in all of the 1950s and 1960s combined. The GOP's strategy has been "twenty years of obstruction packed into one," he said.
The fact is there has not been one single filibuster in 2009 by the Republicans or anybody else for that matter, rather there has been the threat of a filibuster.

Big difference. In reality what the Democrats are whining about is a Senate rule imposed in 1975 which stated that to cut off debate on an issue you needed 60 votes for what is called cloture.
The history here is well known to everyone interested in politics but worth summarizing. For most of the first 190 years of the country's operation, U.S. Senators would, in unusual circumstances, try to delay a vote on measures they opposed by "filibustering" -- talking without limit or using other stalling techniques. For most of those years, the Senate could cut off the filibuster and force a vote by imposing "cloture," which took a two-thirds majority of those voting (at most 67 of 100 Senators). In 1975, the Senate adopted a rules change to allow cloture with 60 votes, and those are the rules that still prevail.
The Republicans have made the Dems invoke the cloture clause numerous times, but that is far different then a filibuster, and I would think the former City of Chicago Constitutional Law Professor would know that.

For somebody who wants to work with the Republicans he really has gone on a scorched earth strategy this week. What remains to be seen is how much of his attacking the Republicans sticks with the average American, and how much of it winds up being anger at the guy who won the game and still wants to whine about how the other team played. Americans used to hate whiners and we would shun them. Maybe in our kinder and gentler 21st century world citizens will feel the need to give him some sort cosmic group hug to make the boo-boo go away like his mommy used to do.

The cloture rules now used were introduced and pushed by Sen Robert Byrd. In 2003 then Sen. Frist proposed amending the rule so that a measure could continue to be reintroduced and each subsequent vote the number votes needed to invoke cloture would be reduced, never to fall below the 51 vote threshold however. Of course the Dems proving once again that they were smarter then everybody else, just like they did in Massachusetts in regards to electing senators in special elections, and being the party of no at the time defeated the measure.
Under the procedure proposed by Senator Frist, as with current practice, the first cloture petition filed on a nomination would need the votes of 60 Senators for cloture to be invoked. If 60 Senators did not vote for cloture, a second petition could then be submitted. When the Senate voted on that petition, just 57 Senators would be required to invoke cloture. On the third petition, the required vote would fall to 54 Senators, and on a fourth petition the votes of 51 Senators would invoke cloture. The cloture threshold would never drop below a majority vote of the full Senate.
Leading the charge against the Frist amendment were Sen. Chris Dodd and the late Ted Kennedy.

In 1975, when Robert Byrd got the current rule adopted, Gerald Ford was president, the Democrats controlled both houses of congress, (291 seats in the House and 61 seats in the Senate) just like today, and just like today many of those same people are still in congress.

So Barry, there is your history lesson for today, and for the rest of the news folks, how about a little research before you just willy nilly regurgitate the White House talking points.

BTW, there is a reason he didn't compare it to the 70's and 80's.

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