Filibuster

Now that Democrats have lost their filibuster-proof supermajority, some are clamoring to eliminate the filibuster.  That refers to the traditional Senate principle allowing unlimited debate apart from a vote of cloture.  That means that any Senator can keep talking on an issue, preventing it from coming up for a vote, unless 60 Senators vote  to end debate.  In practice, this means that bills need 60 votes just to get to the floor for action.  Here is a non-partisan defense of the system:  Ruth Marcus – Why the filibuster is frustrating but necessary – washingtonpost.com.

But, as I understand it (somebody correct me if I’m wrong), today’s Senate rules do not require anyone to do the work of actually filibustering–that is, continually speaking on the Senate floor in marathon session without eating, going to the bathroom, or falling asleep, as in Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  That was the old school Senate.  Today, a member simply has to invoke the filibuster and the cloture rule goes into effect.  It is no longer necessary to, you know, filibuster.  No wonder the number of cloture votes has sky-rocketed and the Senate can hardly get anything done!

I propose keeping the filibuster for the reasons Ruth Marcus mentions.  But changing the rule back to the true tradition of the Senate so as to require actual continuous debate.  That would prevent the filibuster threat from being used all the time, while saving it for the big issues.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Orianna Laun

    That sounds reasonable–if one wants to filibuster, then so be it, but it must be worked for.

  • Orianna Laun

    That sounds reasonable–if one wants to filibuster, then so be it, but it must be worked for.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I didn’t know “filibuster” didn’t even mean that anymore. Yes, the senators should certainly be made to work a bit harder for what they (ie – their corporate sponsors) care about.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I didn’t know “filibuster” didn’t even mean that anymore. Yes, the senators should certainly be made to work a bit harder for what they (ie – their corporate sponsors) care about.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’m for it, make them stand and talk. Waht are we paying them for again? Then at least Cspan would have something to film.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’m for it, make them stand and talk. Waht are we paying them for again? Then at least Cspan would have something to film.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’m all for it, especially as the Senate uses the lax filibuster rule to work on other issues instead of doing the hard work of coming to a consensus on difficult issues. I would much rather have the Senate blathering on ad infinitum instead of approving bills to help themselves to our wallets while removing essential liberties.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’m all for it, especially as the Senate uses the lax filibuster rule to work on other issues instead of doing the hard work of coming to a consensus on difficult issues. I would much rather have the Senate blathering on ad infinitum instead of approving bills to help themselves to our wallets while removing essential liberties.

  • kerner

    The change came some time a couple of decades ago. Back then, the Senate needed 66 votes to cut off debate, but someone needed to keep talking. It didn’t have to be just one senator. If 35 Senators wanted to fillibuster, they could take turns talking (just read the phone book for 8 hours, or whatever) indefinitely.

    The trade off was that nobody has to actually keep talking, but now they need only 60 votes to cut off debate. But this made it easier to do, and we lost the spectacle of the Senate doing nothing for extended periods of time. The Senate could just declare that a fillibuster existed and move on to something else.

    The result was that fillibustering became a lot eassier and therefore more common. It was first used (to my knowledge) extensively by the Democrats in the early 2000′s to stop George W. Bush from getting his entire agenda passed. If you remember, this riled up the Republicans, especially conservatives, who were frustrated by the minority democrats.

    Remember how there was this push to eliminate fillibustering for judicial nominations, and how angry talk radio was when some Republicans (notably John McCain) found a way to compromise without eliminating the fillibuster. Now, on the other hand, it is the Republicans who are using the fillibuster to hold back the otherwise unrestrained “Bolshevik plots” of this presidency and the left that is frustrated. Being conservative myself, I guess I’m glad the fillibuster wasn’t weakened or eliminated in 2004-5. It’s saving the country now (from my perspective).

  • kerner

    The change came some time a couple of decades ago. Back then, the Senate needed 66 votes to cut off debate, but someone needed to keep talking. It didn’t have to be just one senator. If 35 Senators wanted to fillibuster, they could take turns talking (just read the phone book for 8 hours, or whatever) indefinitely.

    The trade off was that nobody has to actually keep talking, but now they need only 60 votes to cut off debate. But this made it easier to do, and we lost the spectacle of the Senate doing nothing for extended periods of time. The Senate could just declare that a fillibuster existed and move on to something else.

    The result was that fillibustering became a lot eassier and therefore more common. It was first used (to my knowledge) extensively by the Democrats in the early 2000′s to stop George W. Bush from getting his entire agenda passed. If you remember, this riled up the Republicans, especially conservatives, who were frustrated by the minority democrats.

    Remember how there was this push to eliminate fillibustering for judicial nominations, and how angry talk radio was when some Republicans (notably John McCain) found a way to compromise without eliminating the fillibuster. Now, on the other hand, it is the Republicans who are using the fillibuster to hold back the otherwise unrestrained “Bolshevik plots” of this presidency and the left that is frustrated. Being conservative myself, I guess I’m glad the fillibuster wasn’t weakened or eliminated in 2004-5. It’s saving the country now (from my perspective).

  • kerner

    After thought:

    While not used extensively, I think the filibuster was used effectively by the Republicans in 1992-4 to stop government health care at that time.

  • kerner

    After thought:

    While not used extensively, I think the filibuster was used effectively by the Republicans in 1992-4 to stop government health care at that time.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    I think I like the old way better. But this is one of those thing where people are shortsighted and can’t imagine that one day they will want to use the tool the other side is using against them. Best just not to tamper with the system, but learn how to use it. Problem is few people want to learn how to use it. They would just rather change the rules to their liking. You can’t do it midgame in basket ball, why should senate be any different?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    I think I like the old way better. But this is one of those thing where people are shortsighted and can’t imagine that one day they will want to use the tool the other side is using against them. Best just not to tamper with the system, but learn how to use it. Problem is few people want to learn how to use it. They would just rather change the rules to their liking. You can’t do it midgame in basket ball, why should senate be any different?

  • DonS

    Actually, the Republicans in ’04-05 only wanted it eliminated for judicial nominations, not for legislation. And most of them are principled about it — there has been no threat to attempt to filibuster Obama nominees. Moreover, in general, Republicans have been a lot more accommodating to the nominees of Democratic presidents than Democrats have been toward Republican ones. Of course, as Democrats continued during Bush’s term to be totally obstructionist toward many of the Bush nominees, Republican comity started to break down in return.

    In my opinion, the filibuster rule is fine the way it is, except that it should be eliminated for administrative appointments subject to advise and consent requirements, such as judicial nominees. Every nominee should get an up or down vote. But, rule changes should only occur at the beginning of a new Congressional session, not during one, so that the stench of politics is at least somewhat lessened.

  • DonS

    Actually, the Republicans in ’04-05 only wanted it eliminated for judicial nominations, not for legislation. And most of them are principled about it — there has been no threat to attempt to filibuster Obama nominees. Moreover, in general, Republicans have been a lot more accommodating to the nominees of Democratic presidents than Democrats have been toward Republican ones. Of course, as Democrats continued during Bush’s term to be totally obstructionist toward many of the Bush nominees, Republican comity started to break down in return.

    In my opinion, the filibuster rule is fine the way it is, except that it should be eliminated for administrative appointments subject to advise and consent requirements, such as judicial nominees. Every nominee should get an up or down vote. But, rule changes should only occur at the beginning of a new Congressional session, not during one, so that the stench of politics is at least somewhat lessened.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Of course, Senate rules are carried or defeated by majority votes. The Republicans were restrained about not using this “nuclear option back in 2004-5. Filibusters are traditional in legislative bodies and were used by Cato in the Roman Senate to defeated some of Julius Caesar’s proposals.

    It is a very good thing that a sixty-vote or three-fifths majority is required to close debate on major issues. This is a far from unreasonable vote quantum given the tendency of even senators to sometimes get carried away with the passions of the moment.

    Both the Republicans and Democrats have been helped by the filibuster; certainly the American people have been greatly benefited.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Of course, Senate rules are carried or defeated by majority votes. The Republicans were restrained about not using this “nuclear option back in 2004-5. Filibusters are traditional in legislative bodies and were used by Cato in the Roman Senate to defeated some of Julius Caesar’s proposals.

    It is a very good thing that a sixty-vote or three-fifths majority is required to close debate on major issues. This is a far from unreasonable vote quantum given the tendency of even senators to sometimes get carried away with the passions of the moment.

    Both the Republicans and Democrats have been helped by the filibuster; certainly the American people have been greatly benefited.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Pardon the “defeated” in the above first para that should have been “defeat,”

  • Peter Leavitt

    Pardon the “defeated” in the above first para that should have been “defeat,”

  • Cincinnatus

    Attempting to portray Republicans as the “goodguys” in their attempts to eliminate the filibuster and Democrats as the villains is, in my opinion, a mostly fruitless debate. The sad fact (as most political facts are in a democracy) is that the party in power always wants to eliminate obstacles to their agenda.

  • Cincinnatus

    Attempting to portray Republicans as the “goodguys” in their attempts to eliminate the filibuster and Democrats as the villains is, in my opinion, a mostly fruitless debate. The sad fact (as most political facts are in a democracy) is that the party in power always wants to eliminate obstacles to their agenda.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus:

    I’m assuming that your comment was addressed, at least in part, to me.

    I was not saying that the Republicans are “the good guys” and Democrats “the bad guys”. I was merely saying that Democrats tend to play political hardball a lot more when they are in power. It’s hard to argue that if you’ve been paying attention at all, and you don’t cite anything in your comment to counter my point. I’m all ears, though.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus:

    I’m assuming that your comment was addressed, at least in part, to me.

    I was not saying that the Republicans are “the good guys” and Democrats “the bad guys”. I was merely saying that Democrats tend to play political hardball a lot more when they are in power. It’s hard to argue that if you’ve been paying attention at all, and you don’t cite anything in your comment to counter my point. I’m all ears, though.

  • Cincinnatus

    Don@12: I was directing it at you, but only partly. Newt Gingrich’s reign as speaker (obviously slightly different context than the Senate) is legendary for the “hardball” politics in which it engaged. I don’t think there is an empirical case for the idea what Democrats play dirtier when in Congressional power than do Republicans (or, for that matter, for the reverse). The simple, nearly irrefutable, fact is that the party in power will always seek to eliminate obstacles to its agenda.

    You may, however, be able to make a philosophical case for the idea that conservatives–which, as you know, are not coterminous with Republicans (in fact, there are very, very few American-style conservatives in Congress–Ron Paul is one of the few)–are less predisposed to engage in power-grappling than progressives.

    You may also be able to argue that, because Democrats in 2009 saw themselves on the cusp of enacting massive progressive programs for which they have been longing almost three decades, they were less inclined to respect institutional barriers than usual–it is, after all, only a few congressmen who stand in the way of a legislative revolution.

    But again, I’m going to find it difficult to take you seriously if you seek to claim that one party engages less in various unsportsmanlike tactics than another when in power, because for every anecdote you cite to demonstrate your case a contrasting fact can be cited.

  • Cincinnatus

    Don@12: I was directing it at you, but only partly. Newt Gingrich’s reign as speaker (obviously slightly different context than the Senate) is legendary for the “hardball” politics in which it engaged. I don’t think there is an empirical case for the idea what Democrats play dirtier when in Congressional power than do Republicans (or, for that matter, for the reverse). The simple, nearly irrefutable, fact is that the party in power will always seek to eliminate obstacles to its agenda.

    You may, however, be able to make a philosophical case for the idea that conservatives–which, as you know, are not coterminous with Republicans (in fact, there are very, very few American-style conservatives in Congress–Ron Paul is one of the few)–are less predisposed to engage in power-grappling than progressives.

    You may also be able to argue that, because Democrats in 2009 saw themselves on the cusp of enacting massive progressive programs for which they have been longing almost three decades, they were less inclined to respect institutional barriers than usual–it is, after all, only a few congressmen who stand in the way of a legislative revolution.

    But again, I’m going to find it difficult to take you seriously if you seek to claim that one party engages less in various unsportsmanlike tactics than another when in power, because for every anecdote you cite to demonstrate your case a contrasting fact can be cited.

  • Cincinnatus

    *pardon my typos

  • Cincinnatus

    *pardon my typos

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus:

    No, I’m sorry, I AM going to strongly disagree with you on this one. First of all, we were talking about the Senate, not the House. The House, the people’s chamber, has always had a more hard-nosed brand of politics. It is simply a majority-rule chamber, and the majority RULES.

    However, the Senate was always a more genteel chamber, where there were certain rules of polity that were observed, no matter how contentious the underlying issue of debate was. The minority has substantial power, intentionally, and that has historically been well understood, by both parties. Absent very extenuating circumstances, presidential nominees were historically accorded substantial deference by the opposing party. This all began to change with the Robert Bork nomination and hearings, and worsened greatly with the despicable treatment of Clarence Thomas. Even so, Ruth Ginsberg, an extremely liberal Clinton nominee who had spent her career as an ACLU attorney, received over 90 votes for confirmation. Obviously, a lot of Republicans deferred to Clinton’s nominee, despite their distaste for her liberal politics and record.

    However, the Democratic minority did not accord Bush’s nominees anywhere near the same deference. They threatened to filibuster mainstream, qualified nominees, an unprecedented action, resulting in the withdrawal of a number of highly qualified nominees, under the “Gang of 14″ compromise forced on the Republicans (because they did not want to undertake the “nuclear option”). Roberts and Alito, eminently qualified jurists, received only about 60 votes for confirmation, with most Democrats voting no for purely political reasons. Once the Democrats regained the Senate in 2006, they slowed Bush’s nominee confirmation process to a practical halt.

    As a result of these shortsighted and unprecedented tactics, we have a new reality in the Senate. It is unfortunate, but very real. And there is no dispute as to which party started it.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus:

    No, I’m sorry, I AM going to strongly disagree with you on this one. First of all, we were talking about the Senate, not the House. The House, the people’s chamber, has always had a more hard-nosed brand of politics. It is simply a majority-rule chamber, and the majority RULES.

    However, the Senate was always a more genteel chamber, where there were certain rules of polity that were observed, no matter how contentious the underlying issue of debate was. The minority has substantial power, intentionally, and that has historically been well understood, by both parties. Absent very extenuating circumstances, presidential nominees were historically accorded substantial deference by the opposing party. This all began to change with the Robert Bork nomination and hearings, and worsened greatly with the despicable treatment of Clarence Thomas. Even so, Ruth Ginsberg, an extremely liberal Clinton nominee who had spent her career as an ACLU attorney, received over 90 votes for confirmation. Obviously, a lot of Republicans deferred to Clinton’s nominee, despite their distaste for her liberal politics and record.

    However, the Democratic minority did not accord Bush’s nominees anywhere near the same deference. They threatened to filibuster mainstream, qualified nominees, an unprecedented action, resulting in the withdrawal of a number of highly qualified nominees, under the “Gang of 14″ compromise forced on the Republicans (because they did not want to undertake the “nuclear option”). Roberts and Alito, eminently qualified jurists, received only about 60 votes for confirmation, with most Democrats voting no for purely political reasons. Once the Democrats regained the Senate in 2006, they slowed Bush’s nominee confirmation process to a practical halt.

    As a result of these shortsighted and unprecedented tactics, we have a new reality in the Senate. It is unfortunate, but very real. And there is no dispute as to which party started it.

  • DonS

    Swerving off-topic a bit, this article is interesting:

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2010/02/01/nl-williams-heart-201.html

    Makes you wonder about that vaunted Canadian single-payer health care system, and the supposed wretched state of our own, doesn’t it?

    Long live the filibuster!

  • DonS

    Swerving off-topic a bit, this article is interesting:

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2010/02/01/nl-williams-heart-201.html

    Makes you wonder about that vaunted Canadian single-payer health care system, and the supposed wretched state of our own, doesn’t it?

    Long live the filibuster!

  • Cincinnatus

    Nonsense, Don: you’re looking at a very narrow category (judicial nominations) in quite recent times. Even if you are correct (and the facts here are almost such that either side could be made to “look” right), you’re playing a trite game of “he started it!” Such games, as you know, are not worthwhile. Filibusters have been a “problem” in the Senate for at least the entirety of the 20th century: Wilson faced tremendous difficulty overcoming a filibuster against the Treaty of Versailles in 1919; Civil Rights legislation was stalled for the same reason thanks to Republicans. Party affiliation is meaningless here. That aspect of the debate is, again, not worthwhile. It is of course ironic here that the Democrats want to eliminate the filibuster; if Republicans take the Senate in 2010 (unlikely), it will be just as ironic if they attempt to do the same (and there should be no surprises if they do).

  • Cincinnatus

    Nonsense, Don: you’re looking at a very narrow category (judicial nominations) in quite recent times. Even if you are correct (and the facts here are almost such that either side could be made to “look” right), you’re playing a trite game of “he started it!” Such games, as you know, are not worthwhile. Filibusters have been a “problem” in the Senate for at least the entirety of the 20th century: Wilson faced tremendous difficulty overcoming a filibuster against the Treaty of Versailles in 1919; Civil Rights legislation was stalled for the same reason thanks to Republicans. Party affiliation is meaningless here. That aspect of the debate is, again, not worthwhile. It is of course ironic here that the Democrats want to eliminate the filibuster; if Republicans take the Senate in 2010 (unlikely), it will be just as ironic if they attempt to do the same (and there should be no surprises if they do).

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus:

    I give you specifics, you give me trite drivel. The refuge of scoundrels, when they are accused of poor behavior, is to chant that the other side behaves poorly as well. But, in the case of the Senate, the Democrats own the poor behavior.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus:

    I give you specifics, you give me trite drivel. The refuge of scoundrels, when they are accused of poor behavior, is to chant that the other side behaves poorly as well. But, in the case of the Senate, the Democrats own the poor behavior.

  • Cincinnatus

    Don, I cited a few specifics as well. My point, however, isn’t about specifics; my point is that you can’t make this a partisan debate. It’s beside the point and, like so many partisan debates, hypocritical. I don’t know why you persist on that point: Republicans have filibustered, and they have called for its elimination. Indeed, the GOP has filibustered its fair share of judicial nominees; I say it doesn’t particularly matter who started the game. There is nothing qualitatively better about a Republican caucus/politico as opposed to a Democratic hack (though as I mentioned, those conservative in disposition may be predisposed not to engage in hackery–but as I also mentioned, I’m not aware of more than a few true conservatives in Congress).

    Here is the only thing I am asserting:
    -Both parties seek to eliminate barriers to legislation.
    -The filibuster should, no less, remain as a protection of the minority. And it most likely will, despite the agitations of a disaffected majority.

  • Cincinnatus

    Don, I cited a few specifics as well. My point, however, isn’t about specifics; my point is that you can’t make this a partisan debate. It’s beside the point and, like so many partisan debates, hypocritical. I don’t know why you persist on that point: Republicans have filibustered, and they have called for its elimination. Indeed, the GOP has filibustered its fair share of judicial nominees; I say it doesn’t particularly matter who started the game. There is nothing qualitatively better about a Republican caucus/politico as opposed to a Democratic hack (though as I mentioned, those conservative in disposition may be predisposed not to engage in hackery–but as I also mentioned, I’m not aware of more than a few true conservatives in Congress).

    Here is the only thing I am asserting:
    -Both parties seek to eliminate barriers to legislation.
    -The filibuster should, no less, remain as a protection of the minority. And it most likely will, despite the agitations of a disaffected majority.

  • DonS

    And, Cincinnatus, why are filibusters a “problem” anyway? What was wrong with filibustering a treaty that one disagreed with? Isn’t that the point of a filibuster? And you’ve fallen for the old saw that Republicans filibustered the Civil Rights Act, when actually it was southern Democrats who were the main opposition. Moreover, Republicans didn’t hate civil rights legislation because theywere racists, they just didn’t like the breakdown of the idea of limited government, and the perversion of the Commerce Clause used to justfify the federal government’s authority to trump states’ rights. A reasonable, and might I say prescient objection, given what has transpired since based on this precedent.

    Republicans will not even consider eliminating the filibuster. You should know this, given recent history. They would have done so in 2005 if that were their intention.

  • DonS

    And, Cincinnatus, why are filibusters a “problem” anyway? What was wrong with filibustering a treaty that one disagreed with? Isn’t that the point of a filibuster? And you’ve fallen for the old saw that Republicans filibustered the Civil Rights Act, when actually it was southern Democrats who were the main opposition. Moreover, Republicans didn’t hate civil rights legislation because theywere racists, they just didn’t like the breakdown of the idea of limited government, and the perversion of the Commerce Clause used to justfify the federal government’s authority to trump states’ rights. A reasonable, and might I say prescient objection, given what has transpired since based on this precedent.

    Republicans will not even consider eliminating the filibuster. You should know this, given recent history. They would have done so in 2005 if that were their intention.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus — which judicial nominees have Republicans filibustered? Or threatened to filibuster? You will only find one — Abe Fortas in 1968, when he was nominated for Chief Justice (he was already an associate justice). They did so on the basis of improper behavior while on the bench — documented. It had nothing to do with ideology. Johnson withdrew the nomination.

    That’s it.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus — which judicial nominees have Republicans filibustered? Or threatened to filibuster? You will only find one — Abe Fortas in 1968, when he was nominated for Chief Justice (he was already an associate justice). They did so on the basis of improper behavior while on the bench — documented. It had nothing to do with ideology. Johnson withdrew the nomination.

    That’s it.

  • Cincinnatus

    You’re getting way off point, Don.

    1) I’ve never once argued against the filibuster. I’m rather fond of archaic parliamentary procedures.

    2) It is a brute fact that Republicans filibustered the law (Strom Thurmond and his infamous 24-hour debate, anyone?), and Democrats were not able to overcome the filibuster because of “racist” opposition from Southern Democrats. Eventually the law passed because Republicans relented, etc. Fine. Entirely beside the point. The only point is that Republicans filibustered long before Democrats supposedly “started” the game as you assert (and no doubt Democrats engaged in the tactic long before that as well, though Henry Clay–a proto-Republican–was notorious for his filibustering ways). Thus, the only point is that your point is moot. If Republicans were in power now, I can guarantee that we would be having this same discussion (though perhaps not on this blog): the party in power never appreciates the filibuster.

    3) It’s patently false (but again, irrelevant) that Republicans have never filibustered or “threatened” to filibuster a judicial nominee. Most recently, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/18/gops-bid-to-filibuster-judicial-nominee-fails/ That’s not the only example, but again, I’m not interested in figuring out who started “the game,” as that’s not the issue in question.

  • Cincinnatus

    You’re getting way off point, Don.

    1) I’ve never once argued against the filibuster. I’m rather fond of archaic parliamentary procedures.

    2) It is a brute fact that Republicans filibustered the law (Strom Thurmond and his infamous 24-hour debate, anyone?), and Democrats were not able to overcome the filibuster because of “racist” opposition from Southern Democrats. Eventually the law passed because Republicans relented, etc. Fine. Entirely beside the point. The only point is that Republicans filibustered long before Democrats supposedly “started” the game as you assert (and no doubt Democrats engaged in the tactic long before that as well, though Henry Clay–a proto-Republican–was notorious for his filibustering ways). Thus, the only point is that your point is moot. If Republicans were in power now, I can guarantee that we would be having this same discussion (though perhaps not on this blog): the party in power never appreciates the filibuster.

    3) It’s patently false (but again, irrelevant) that Republicans have never filibustered or “threatened” to filibuster a judicial nominee. Most recently, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/18/gops-bid-to-filibuster-judicial-nominee-fails/ That’s not the only example, but again, I’m not interested in figuring out who started “the game,” as that’s not the issue in question.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus, I agree with your two points. But I disagree with the unethical tactics the Democrats use and threaten to use to “overcome” the barriers they perceive the Republicans putting up to their pet legislation. Things like using budget reconciliation to pass substantive legislation. Secret meetings at the White House, avoiding the established rule requiring a conference committee, and shutting the minority party out of the process, even though they promised to put these processes on CSpan and to be “bipartisan”. All this despite the fact that the American people are making it clear by a two to one margin that they don’t want this legislation.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus, I agree with your two points. But I disagree with the unethical tactics the Democrats use and threaten to use to “overcome” the barriers they perceive the Republicans putting up to their pet legislation. Things like using budget reconciliation to pass substantive legislation. Secret meetings at the White House, avoiding the established rule requiring a conference committee, and shutting the minority party out of the process, even though they promised to put these processes on CSpan and to be “bipartisan”. All this despite the fact that the American people are making it clear by a two to one margin that they don’t want this legislation.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus — Strom Thurmond was a DEMOCRAT in 1964.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus — Strom Thurmond was a DEMOCRAT in 1964.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus — Your filibuster example proves my point. I missed that news in 2009, but look at this passage from the article you linked:

    “Republicans noted Democratic filibusters of President George W. Bush’s nominees, including seven separate votes to block Miguel Estrada from a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003.

    The ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said Judge Hamiltons nomination meets the threshold of “extraordinary circumstances” set by a bipartisan group of senators in 2005 under which a filibuster could be warranted.”

    The Democrats’ unprecedented ill behavior in the Senate during the Bush administration has forever damaged the comity in the Senage, unfortunately.

    Again, you are confusing the point. I was talking about the illegitimate practice of filibustering judicial nominees over ideology. Not filibustering legislation or treaties, which I consider to be perfectly legitimate. The Senate was established to protect the rights of the minority. That is why small states are over-represented in that body. It is part of the wise system of checks and balances our founders set up.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus — Your filibuster example proves my point. I missed that news in 2009, but look at this passage from the article you linked:

    “Republicans noted Democratic filibusters of President George W. Bush’s nominees, including seven separate votes to block Miguel Estrada from a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003.

    The ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said Judge Hamiltons nomination meets the threshold of “extraordinary circumstances” set by a bipartisan group of senators in 2005 under which a filibuster could be warranted.”

    The Democrats’ unprecedented ill behavior in the Senate during the Bush administration has forever damaged the comity in the Senage, unfortunately.

    Again, you are confusing the point. I was talking about the illegitimate practice of filibustering judicial nominees over ideology. Not filibustering legislation or treaties, which I consider to be perfectly legitimate. The Senate was established to protect the rights of the minority. That is why small states are over-represented in that body. It is part of the wise system of checks and balances our founders set up.


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