Feb
14
2013
4

Report: Chuck Hagel not at 60 to confirm.

Just at rumor level at this point:

…and do not get your hopes up. But this is apparently turning into a somewhat higher expenditure of political capital than Barack Obama originally envisioned. Such a shame.

Jan
24
2013
5

Harry Reid… does not *cave* on the filibuster. Rather, he *disengages*.

Call it a “fighting retreat.” Or a disinclination to fight in a burning house.

So, the big news today is that Harry Reid apparently voluntarily spit out some of his fangs on the filibuster.  They’re modifying the rules to give the minority party a bit more input in the process:

…the deal Reid struck with McConnell doesn’t end the filibuster against the motion to proceed. Rather, it creates two new pathways for moving to a new bill. In one, the majority leader can, with the agreement of the minority leader and seven senators from each party, sidestep the filibuster when moving to a new bill. In the other, the majority leader can short-circuit the filibuster against moving to a new bill so long as he allows the minority party to offer two germane amendment that also can’t be filibustered. Note that in all cases, the minority can still filibuster the bill itself.

Apparently, some of the anti-filibuster people are livid, given that Reid’s given up a bit, not least of which is (in at least some cases) his time-honored trick of filling up the amendment tree (ie, not allowing Republican Senators the option to offer amendments to bills).  And, sure, they’re marketing this as a win – but, realistically?  The Democrats aren’t actually able to pass legislation right now that’s unacceptable to the House, so why not run things the way that they like in the Senate anyway? (more…)

Nov
27
2012
2

Heritage’s helpful poison pill suggestions if Harry Reid kills the filibuster.

Got sent the link to this via email, and I gotta say: some of them are quite fun.  I especially like this one:

  • A new two-thirds point of order against any net tax increase on the American people as scored by the Congressional Budget Office. This would be subject to a simple majority vote and is part of the Senate version of the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution supported by all members of the current Republican caucus.

…although the anti-gun-grabbing one would be almost as good.  Watching the progressive movement discover that they’ve given the rest of America the opportunity to shut them up once and for all about the Second Amendment simply won’t stop being funny. (more…)

Nov
07
2012
4

It’s… weird. I’m kind of half-bored with talking about the election for right now.

At least in a post; there’s really only so many ways that you can say Well, that sucked.  But there’s really nothing much else happening today.  i mean, we got Harry Reid feeling his oats and promising to change the filibuster – well, more accurately, threatening to change the filibuster. Whether the trigger gets pulled on that is an interesting question, but not one that will be answered today.

I guess that we’ll have to wait for history to turn itself back on again.  Shouldn’t be long…

Jan
27
2011
2

Turns out I was wrong on filibuster ‘reform’…

…when I said that the only result would be a symbolic gesture towards ‘reform’ with no real changes.  It turns out that progressives didn’t even get that: their precious attempt to deny the Great Shellacking was quietly choked to death in a narrow, dusty room* Tuesday afternoon… and nothing was put in its place.  Tim Noah of Slate is kind of upset about it all –  which is kind of odd, considering that there was never a reasonable chance after November that the Democratic leadership would have made it easier to pass an Obamacare repeal bill.

Yes, that would have been the immediate result of this scheme.  Let me spell it out for those folks on the Other Side who are having difficulty following along (which apparently include some of their Senators).  When you control both Houses of Congress, but the opposition party has enough votes in the Senate to win cloture fights, you want filibuster ‘reform’ to make it easier to pass your legislation.  When you only control the Senate, the Senate opposition party wants filibuster ‘reform’ to make it easier to pass their legislation – particularly when it looks likely that the opposition party will be the majority party after the next election.

This is not particularly difficult to understand.  I’d say that I’m sorry that progressive politicians are too steeped in twinned warm delusions (first delusion, that progressives are popular; second delusion, that the November elections can be negated by an act of Will) to really comprehend this… except that I try not to lie to people.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Yeah, that’s a G.K. Chesterton referenceBecause that’s how I roll.

Jan
25
2011
1

Filibuster ‘reform’ near?

Scare quotes, because it’s DC Kabuki Time!  For those who are not ‘blessed’ enough to live within the Beltway – or downwind of it – this is that special time in the legislative calendar where federal politicians preserve the status quo by changing nothing at all and putting a big, red bow on the result.  In this particular case, the scenario is as follows: for some strange reason, certain progressives want to make it easier for Republicans to repeal Obamacare by making the threshold for a cloture vote less than the current 60.  Saner Democrats – which is to say, about a third to a half of the Senate Democratic caucus – don’t want this to happen, mostly because they can count, and they’re well aware of the minor detail that 2012 is shaping up nicely as a Senatorial bloodbath for their party.  So, it’s time for a compromise!

This is what they came up with:

Under the emerging deal, senators would still be able to put a “hold” on nominations and legislation — and therefore prevent quick votes on them — but instead of remaining anonymous for several days as current rules allow, the name of a senator who employs a hold would be made public right away. Supporters of this reform believe that senators will be less likely to drag out a dispute if they need to defend it publicly.

When asked about this, Senator Tom Coburn – who is easily the Senator most likely to call for a hold, and who takes an innocent, care-free glee in maintaining that status – responded by showing Senate progressives the Hawaiian good-luck symbol, and then going off to deliver another baby, in flagrant violation of Senate work ethics laws*.

So I think that you can safely assume that this is not actually going to be, well, relevant.  I won’t even go into the other two supposed provisions – reducing the number of nominees requiring confirmation, and banning reading the bills aloud – mostly because there’s no real confirmation that either ‘reform’ will be even adopted.  Even if they are, the odds that anything would have changed was… low.  Which could be seen as a pity: Democratic Senators worried about their reelection prospects stampede nicely.

Ach, well.

Moe Lane (crosspost) (more…)

Jan
04
2011
--

#rsrh Revisiting the filibuster.

Over at RedState, Erick Erickson’s written a post calling for people to flood the zone in opposition to changing the filibuster rules.  I share that sentiment, and approve of it: and I agree with hogan (also at RedState) that the filibuster situation as currently designed has inherent merit.  However, I am also prepared to take advantage of the new rules, should the fools in the Democratic Senate caucus actually implement them.

I spelled it out here: to summarize, if the filibuster is eliminated then the Republican Senate abruptly goes from needing thirteen Democrats in order to pass the House’s legislation to only needing four.  Thirteen is hard – doable, if you’re willing to give things up to get it – but hard.  Four?  Four is easy.  We’ve got seven Democrats seriously worried about keeping their jobs after 2012, which even gives the GOP a buffer for its Northeastern contingent.  Senators Udall and Harkin apparently either can’t count, or they don’t quite realize that it’s no longer 2009.

Really.  It’s no longer 2009.  In 2009 the GOP had to play defense in the Senate, because we had a nineteen-to-twenty vote gap that had to be surmounted in order to put any of our policy positions on the board.  Which we couldn’t do.  And now the Democrats want to make it easier for the GOP to make the twenty-three Democratic Senators up for reelection next year squirm in their seats over difficult votes?  Is this a trick question?

Moe Lane

Dec
15
2010
2

Democrats, filibusters, and briar patches.

[monotone] Please. Don’t. Stop. [/monotone]

Let’s set the (somewhat stylized) scenario, here:

The Senate on January 5, 2011 – as per the apparent wishes of Senators Tom Udall of New Mexico and Tom Harkin of Iowa, neither of whom are up for reelection in 2012 – votes to change the rules so that a simple majority may short-circuit the filibuster. Cheers and applause from the progressives; silence from the Republicans. The cheering dies down as progressives realize that the Republican silence is not from stoicism; it is more anticipatory. What do they anticipate? Why, a knock on the door! It is a courier from the House of Representatives, with the freshly-printed text of HR 1 (“Repeal of Obamacare”), ready for the Senate’s perusal.

All forty-seven Republicans sign off on that bill. Immediately. So does Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who campaigned on Obamacare’s repeal.

Then eyes turn to:

  • Kent Conrad of North Dakota. Blue Senator, Red State. Up for re-election in 2012.
  • Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Blue Senator, Red State. Up for re-election in 2012.
  • Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Blue Senator, Red State. Up for re-election in 2012.
  • Bill Nelson of Florida. Blue Senator, Red State. Up for re-election in 2012.
  • Jon Tester of Montana. Blue Senator, Red State. Up for re-election in 2012.
  • Jim Webb of Virginia. Blue Senator, Red State. Up for re-election in 2012.

What do you think the odds are that the GOP can get three of those Senators to panic? You don’t know? – Funny; neither does the Obama administration, which is why they’d be insane to sign off on making it easier for Republican Senators to pass legislation, not harder. (more…)

Nov
24
2010
--

#rsrh Why the filibuster will probably survive.

(H/T Instapundit) Senator Harkin of Iowa and the two Senator Udalls of Colorado and New Mexico are trying to push a last-minute, lame-duck change in the filibuster rules, presumably so that the President will find it easier to push through appointments between now and 2012.  James Taranto points out the obvious flaw in that plan: which is that once the rule is changed, it stays changed.  And, given that the Class I Senatorial class (the ones up in 2012) consists of 23 Democrats/pretend-independents to 10 Republicans, the odds of the GOP getting a net of at least +3 are pretty good.  Couple that with a win in the White House, and you get the Democrats’ Nightmare Scenario:

Imagine a Senate split 50-50, along party lines, on the ObamaCare Repeal Act of 2013, with Vice President Marco Rubio casting the deciding vote. That would be a satisfying outcome of the Harkin-Udall-Udall effort.

Indeed it would.  Fortunately or unfortunately (depends on how you look at it), there are enough Democratic Senators out there with the wit (or the staff with the wit) to see the aforementioned flaw.  Including possibly the plan’s sponsors: it’s instructive that all of the three Senators involved are up for re-election in 2014, not 2012.  That’s plenty of time for the backlash to fade.

Moe Lane

Jul
28
2010
--

#rsrh Down, boy! No filibuster! No!

I was going to be cute about this, but I’m actually a little tired, so no. There will be no amending of the filibuster next Congress: five Democratic Senators (none of whom are running for re-election in 2008) have announced their opposition, and given that +5 GOP in the Senate is a pessimistic forecast of November’s results five is all that we need.

This should shock nobody on the Other Side, but it probably will: theoreticians often stumble badly when they have to unexpectedly deal with real world conditions.  It might seem obvious to most people reading this that Senators can comprehend that just because they’re in the majority for this Congress it doesn’t mean that they’ll always be in the majority, but there is a long list of things obvious to normal people that are apparently beyond the cognitive grasp of netroot theoreticians.  I think that it’s a side effect of having to provide a constant internal reassurance that your policy positions show that you really are a good person, despite it all… but I’m practicing nonsensical psychology without a license.  Or indulging in vicious character assassination; as I said, I’m tired.

Feb
13
2010
--

Durbin (D, D Majority) vs. Durbin (D, R Majority) on filibusters.

You have undoubtedly seen by now that Senator Dick Durbin is now ready to try to kill the filibuster, not five years after praising the practice to the skies.  You are also undoubtedly not surprised.  But this particular bit below from Durbin is really quite interesting as an example of defiance against the tyranny of the majority: it’s an absolute pity that the senior Senator from Illinois has just demonstrated that he never actually meant a word of it.

I don’t believe I was elected to the Senate to be a rubber stamp. I believe I was elected and took the oath of office to uphold this Constitution, to stand up for the precedents and values of Congress and our Nation. We need to have, in our judiciary, independence and fairness. We need to have men and women on the bench who will work to protect our individual rights, despite the intimidation of special interest groups, despite the intimidation of Members of Congress. They need to have the courage to stand up for what they believe, in good conscience, to be the rights and freedoms of Americans.

I speak, as a Senator on the Democratic side, and tell you that our 45 Members will not be intimidated. We will stand together. We understand these lifetime appointments to the bench should be subject to close scrutiny, to evaluation, and to a decision as to why they are prepared to serve and serve in a way to protect the rights and aspirations of ordinary Americans.

The filibuster, which requires that 60 Senators come together to resolve the most controversial issues, that rule in the Senate, forces compromise. It forces the Republicans to reach across the aisle and bring in some Democrats when they have very controversial legislation or controversial nominees. It forces bipartisanship–something that tells us, at the end of the day, we will have more moderate men and women who will serve us in the judiciary. Those who would attack and destroy the institution of the filibuster are attacking the very force within the Senate that creates compromise and bipartisanship.

Those who are forcing this nuclear option on the Senate are not just breaking the rules to win, but they want to break the rules to win every time.

Mind you, Durbin’s hypocrisy on the filibuster is mostly about trying to look good – for given values of ‘good’ – when it comes time to pick the next Senate Majority Leader.  The odds of Harry Reid holding that position in 2011 are currently not so much ‘slim’ as they are ‘withered.’

Moe Lane (more…)

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