Monday, November 26, 2012

Filibuster Fight Club in Senate ~ "Minority Rights" vs. "Naked Power Grab"


Scary Graphic from Politico

America believes Congress is broken. Once again the only ones who disagree are Mitch McConnell and Republicans in Congress.
. . . To stomp a filibuster on a motion to proceed to a bill, to take 10 days to just get on a bill — I don’t think that’s good and we need to change that.
. . . He [McConnell] keeps talking about not following rules. We’re following the rules. We’re following the Constitution of the United States to make these changes and that’s certainly appropriate.
. . . If they want to filibuster stand and talk about it, not be in your office some place
~ Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid D-Nevada

What the majority leader is saying is he will break the rules of the Senate in order to change the rules of the Senate. It has been the case in the past that it took a super majority of 67 which of course meant that most rules changes occurred because the two leaders agreed to them and were proposing them jointly, instead what the majority leader is saying is that he will propose to change the rules with 51 votes, meaning his side gets to decide what the rules are.
. . . I hope that Republicans, and hopefully many Democrats who care more about this institution than some temporary exercise of raw partisan political power, will come forward over the next few weeks and speak out against this naked power grab.
~ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Kentucky

It will shut down the Senate. It’s such an abuse of power.
~ New Senate GOP whip, Senator John Cornyn R-Texas

I think the backlash will be severe. If you take away minority rights, which is what you’re doing because you’re an ineffective leader, you’ll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we’ll do what we have to do to fight back
~ Senator Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma

“The minority voices the Senate was built to protect.”
Oh, enough of this old saw. The idea that you need a two-thirds vote to change the Senate rules doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution, and some scholars even think it’s unconstitutional. It comes from the 1975 deal in which the total votes needed to break a filibuster was lowered from two-thirds of the Senate to three-fifths. As for the filibuster itself, it didn’t emerge until decades after the founding of the Senate.
The American system of government was built to protect minority voices, but the Founding Fathers explicitly rejected designing the Congress around a supermajority requirement. In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a supermajority Congress, writing that “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority."
~ Ezra Klein, Washington Post Wonkblog "Mitch McConnell’s five biggest whoppers on the filibuster"


We cannot allow the Senate to be dysfunctional by the use of filibusters. We’ve had over 300 filibusters in the last six years — it’s unprecedented. What we’re talking about is very basic — you want to start a filibuster, you want to stop the business of the Senate, by goodness’ sake, park your fanny on the floor of the Senate and speak. If you want to go to dinner and go home over the weekend, be prepared, the Senate is moving forward.
~ Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois


Think of the cross marketing promotions though! "This 13th Hour of the Republican Filibuster brought to you by No Doz." And, much later, "This 27th Hour of the Republican Filibuster sponsored by Depends."
~ comment by ontheleftcoast on Daily Kos

Right now, all the general public really knows of the filibuster is what they've seen in either/or/both:
1 -- Jimmy Stewart's character in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
2. -- "The Stackhouse Filibuster" episode on "The West Wing."
Both, much loved "traditional" understandings of the filibuster and both exemplifying "lovable/likable" fictional characters, espousing noble causes...
Let these GOPuckers actually have to show up and defend their preference for the current "lazy filibuster" process...
~ comment by Marjmar on Daily Kos


Those republican gasbags will have to LISTEN TO EACH OTHER bargling on and on, ad nauseum, for hours and hours, and HOURS! And the best part is WE CAN TURN C-SPAN OFF WHILE THEY DO! Hah!
And is this the first time I've ever heard Sen. Coburn being concerned about the rights of minorities?
~ comment by conniptionfit on Daily Kos

Here's an idea. Senate Rule XXII, which controls the filibuster, originally required two-thirds of all senators present and voting to break a filibuster. In 1975 this was changed to three-fifths of all senators duly chosen and sworn. But what if we went back to the present and voting standard?
In that case, the majority would still have to hang around, so there's a cost to trying to break a filibuster. But the minority has to hang around too. At any point, if too many minority senators have gone home or skipped town, the majority can call a vote and break the filibuster as long as they have three-fifths of all the senators currently on the floor.
~ Kevin Drum on Mother Jones


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