Mar 202010
 

As most of you know, the United States Senate has a cloture rule which requires at least 60 votes to end debate to then vote up or down on the bill itself. It is important to note that the Constitution says nothing about the rules of the Senate, and does not require such a super-majority. The Constitution speaks only to a requirement for such super-majority votes in a few very specific processes, such as amending the Constitution. This is merely a procedure adopted by the Senate itself.

Many times during the Cheney/Bush regime, the Republicans, while in the majority, could not always get the needed 60 votes. Often they threatened the “nuclear option” meaning they’d have a vote to do away with the Senate procedure requiring the cloture vote. Now that the Republicans are no longer in the majority, and the Democrats are attempting to pass legislation by circumventing the requirement, Rethuglicans are all up in arms claiming its some sort of attempt to short-circuit democracy (which I thought had “majority rule” as one of its precepts).

Senators are no longer required to stay on the floor of the Senate speaking to hold the floor in a true filibuster (ala “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”). Given that, should the rule be modified to require a lower threshold for cloture, or eliminated all together? Tell us what you think in our poll.

The U.S. Senate's internal rule concerning cloture requires 60 votes to end debate on a bill. Given that it's not a Constitutional requirement, should majority rule, and the Senate change the bill?

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Nov 092006
 

Of course I can’t pass by the 2006 mid-term elections without comment. It was clearly a stunning victory for Democrats, and I can only hope the new Democratic majority will roll back some of the powers granted to the executive branch. Unfortunately, that normally comes very slowly.

A lot of pundits are saying the outcome is more a vote against Republicans than for Democrats. I will concede that observation to a point. However, I think there was also a very strong vote against the war and against the Bush Administration. Given that he has two years left, the voters can’t vote him out of office, so they did the next best thing, and voted against all the Republicans.

But it was also very much a “throw the bums out” election, and the bums all had an “R” next to their names. Democrats made huge gains in governorships and in control of state legislatures. I do think it became clear that the ultra-conservative theocratic evangelical voting bloc did not come through for the Republicans this time, despite having the marriage amendments on the ballots in several states. In South Dakota, voters reversed a new law completely outlawing abortions, and in Arizona, a marriage amendment was defeated. In the states where it passed, it generally passed by very narrow margins, but Republicans were still turned out of office in many of those states.

The evangelical voters are all whining about how they will need to “take back the party.” I think that bodes well for Democrats. It will be the most extreme wing of that party pulling it as far to the right as possible. I think a big part of this election includes a fatigue with the amtaliban trying to legislate the morality of everyone else. Hence the narrowing of margins in these moral issues ballot initiatives.

Here in Florida, I think the conservatives actually shot themselves in the foot. Florida approved a Constitutional Amendment requiring a 60% affirmative vote to amend the state Constitution. This will make it extremely difficult to get an anti-marriage amendment passed here.

Arch homo-bigoted County Commissioner Rhonda Storms won a seat in the state legislature. I expect her to make the usual fool of herself in Tallahasee, but at least her influence and vote will be severly diluted relative to her ability to influence life here in Hillsborough County. Interestingly, she was running a strong Republican district where Repubs usually win with a margin of two to three to one. Storms beat an unknown Democrat with only 58%.

And of course we can’t get through a complete election cycle here in Florida without some Republican chicanery. Watch the FL13 race closely…there was an 18,000 UNDERVOTE in Sarasota. The local and state election officials are blaming it not on their defective electronic voting machines, but on voters choosing not to vote in a “nasty” race!! Democrat Christine Jennings was ahead in every poll right up to election weekend. Election-Law blog thinks the court might order another election…but there’s even a juicier possibility: Congress deciding.

I’m sure a Democratic Congress would be interested in investigating the nonsense that occured in Katherine Harris’ old district (and hometown) with the assistance of Jeb’s pals at the Secretary of State’s office…I think this will develop into a major story as the month wears on.

Whatever the reasons, Democrats are the majority, and now have an opportunity to make something of it. If we do, we’ll stay in the majority, if we try to play it safe, the Republicans will rise again.

I remember the Republicans always threatening the “nuclear option” in the Senate. This was their threat to eliminate the filibuster. They railed against how it resulted in a minority thwarting the will of the majority. I think they given up the right to use the filibuster in the next Congress.

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