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Republicans and the Senate
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, October 21, 2007

Obviously everyone knows what's at stake in '08 when voters head to the polls. The House of Reps is in Democratic hands, and most likely will remain that way. And there's a very real possibility that a Democrat may end up in the White House. There's little doubt of what sort of agenda will then be proposed.

For Republicans, the Senate, even in minority status, could end up being the key to surviving the election.

Democrats certainly understand what that would mean:
But Senate Democrats mostly complain that even on routine matters, such as proceeding to take up a bill, scheduling votes on amendments or naming senators to sit on conference committees, Republicans have objected and forced them to get the 60 votes needed to override objections – a tough task in a chamber where Democrats hold a 51-49 advantage.

“The fact is it’s been hard,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who served in the House from 1980-92 and is now in his party’s leadership team as chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. “The Republicans have been objecting even to motions to proceed of even to going to appropriations bills, so it’s not been an easy time for us. But we’re getting things done.”
Or said another way, the Republican minority has been doing to the Democrats what the Democratic minority did when it enjoyed that status. I'm sorry but I just don't have much sympathy for them on this particular point. Neither, apparently, does the present Republican minority leader according to his spokesman:
“Let me get this straight: When they were in the minority, it was the majority’s fault when their agenda failed,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “And now that they’re in the majority, it’s the minority’s fault? Seriously?”
Seriously.

But there's an important point hidden in there. Given the possible outcome of the '08 presidential election, the Senate could end up being the Republican ace-in-the-hole - if they can maintain at least the status quo. Keeping it as close as possible (51-49) is critical and especially true for Supreme Court nominations. Since every agenda and most key nominations, to include those of a Democratic president, must move through the Senate, I think the reason should be obvious. And as a friend of mine once said, "Republicans are never more "Republican" than when they're in the minority."

That said, Republicans are going to have to work hard to ensure they keep the power (and the numbers) they now have if they hope to act as a brake on the Democratic agenda. Never, in my memory, has the Senate been as key to the Republican future as it is now.
 
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Never, in my memory, has the Senate been as key to the Republican future as it is now.
I would offer the idea that the reverse is also true.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
The GOP will lose several seats. At this time I don’t see any reason to believe otherwise. There are more GOP seats up for re-election this time than Democrat seats, and in several of those seats the GOP are looking weak. Republicans should count is as a big victory if they have 45 seats coming out of the 2008 elections - which is enough for gridlock and filibuster, of course, but not exactly something to feel good about.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
The GOP will lose several seats. At this time I don’t see any reason to believe otherwise
Besides the 11% congress approval rating for the Dem congress?

I dunno....this election is still far off but between the close race in MA and the Jindal election, the early indicators are certainly cloudy regarding a Dem victory.

If Hillary gets the nod, all bets are off. Nobody polarizes and motivates more than she does.

But the point holds- if the public is into the "gridlock" thing, then GOP Senate races become all crucial
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
It’s sad for our country that the filibuster has gone from something used only in extreme cases now to something that will be used to block routine legislation. This is a major change, not the intent of the filibuster, and really a breaking with tradition which both parties should resist. Alas, both parties have embraced this change when it served their interest, and both share the blame.

Oh, and Shark, that 11% approval is for Congress in general, not just the Democratic majority.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Oh, and Shark, that 11% approval is for Congress in general, not just the Democratic majority.

Funny how the ’06 polls were for the R’s, eh Doc, but the lower polls don’t bode ill for the D’s? Tsongas barely squeaks in and Jindjal IS in...things might not be so bad. I don’t see taking the Seante back, but not disaster, either.

Yeah, both parties and the filibuster...funny seems to be one party started it.

Finally, all you lot complaining aobut the direct election of Senators, looks like the Senate is fulfilling the very mission the Founders intended.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
11% approval is for Congress in general, not just the Democratic majority.
Plus most people have a higher opinion of their own representatives than they do of Congress in general, so a low approval rating for Congress does not indicate that any more seats than usual are likely to change hands.

But there are five retiring senators this round, all of them Republican, and three of those five seats are in serious danger of swinging Dem. Some of the other Republicans face a tough reelection, and there won’t be any opportunity to take seats from the Democrats (outside of Mary Landrieu).
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Joe, how on earth is the Senate fulfilling the mission of representing the interests of state governments at the national level? I don’t think that’s happening it all, quite the opposite, it’s become very partisan (which is NOT what the founders hoped for).

It does seem that the Democrats really expanded use of the filibuster and the Republicans are copying, to the point that even one of the bloggers here claimed it was simply ’Senate rules’ to need 60 votes to pass something. I suppose gridlock isn’t all bad, but I’d rather go back to the days when, say, Strom Thurmond would sauna and refuse water to be able to talk without a pee break. Now that was filibustering in style!

Wulf, my state of Maine is one where a GOP Senator is facing a really strong challenge from a Democrat, in this case Rep. Tom Allen. And, as much as people here associate me with the left (and I am generally more liberal than most commentators here, at least in social and foreign policy matters), I’ll probably vote for Susan Collins. Ultimately it’s the person, not the party, I vote for.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
claimed it was simply ’Senate rules’ to need 60 votes to pass something
Since I don’t really want to revisit this ridiculous argument, I’ll just state this once for the record:

Senate RULES require either unanimous consent to limit debate beforehand or 60 votes to end debate before any legislation can continue its process through and eventually out of the Senate.

It’s a Senate rule. It’s quite simple. If Erb tries to reargue this, watch him change the original argument into an alternate claim that McQ thinks 60 votes are needed to "support" or "favor" legislation.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
JWG, I won that debate then because I didn’t accept your shifting of the argument. You do not have to be in support of a bill to agree to end debate. Historically, people voted to end debate and vote on a bill and then voted against the bill itself. They would vote to end debate even knowing they would lose the final vote. That was because filibustering was seen as creating barriers to doing the Senate’s business, and thus should only be used in rare cases. The claim that you need 60 votes to pass legislation is objectively and historically wrong. It is not Senate rules that you need sixty votes to pass legislation. You just need Senators who realize that obstructing voting on a bill because they’ll lose is not in the interest of the Senate. Unfortunately, driven by partisanship, both parties have chosen to change behavior. This change was not mandated by and is not required by the rules. Get it?

It is objectively wrong to say "that’s the Senate rules" when someone complains about a filibuster. The rules do not require a filibuster. A filibuster can be considered obstructionist and wrong even if the rules allow one to make that choice (the rules do not require that choice). That’s what Democrats were complaining about, McQ’s off the cuff ’that’s the Senate rules’ does not address their complaint. Get it?

Of course, you and McQ were right that Reid is in no position to complain given that he did the same obstructionist act, but that is a different argument.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I won that debate then because I didn’t accept your shifting of the argument.
Here it is. Count how many times you changed McQ’s original point.
The claim that you need 60 votes to pass legislation is objectively and historically wrong.
Please post this in an email to your PoliSci peers.
It is objectively wrong to say "that’s the Senate rules" when someone complains about a filibuster. The rules do not require a filibuster.
The rules REQUIRE an end to debate. Please tell us how the Senate can end debate on legislation. There are only two ways — and I already posted them.

Then proceed to tell us how you should not be considered the worst PoliSci graduate ever produced in the USA.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Joe, how on earth is the Senate fulfilling the mission of representing the interests of state governments at the national level? I don’t think that’s happening it all, quite the opposite, it’s become very partisan (which is NOT what the founders hoped for).
It was to represent states and to slow down legislation, which it seems to be all too good at. Any way what was representing the "state’s interests" Things don’t have interests PEOPLE, do. All the original formulation meant was that Senators represented the coalition of state legislators that sent them to DC. Now they represent the coalition of VOTERS that sent them to DC. They still move slower, are less subject to popular opinion, as a body, and still serve as the saucer of legislation.

The only real change in the Senate’s filibuster rules I’d like to se is that if you want to filibuster, you must filibuster. Nowadays I just say "I’m filibustering" and you are, I’d go back tot he old days, you have to talk, and talk and talk, it cost something to filibuster then. So I say raise the cost of the product and you’ll limit it’s use.
Then proceed to tell us how you should not be considered the worst PoliSci graduate ever produced in the USA.

Dr Erb is by no means the WORST Poli Sci graduate, not even in the bottom 25%, trust me I know the folks in the bottom 25%. I may even see one in the mirror when I shave.


 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
JWG, you simply don’t seem capable of admitting you’re wrong and I’m right. Your over the top insults show that you know my post was accurate, but you just aren’t able to bring yourself to admit. That’s really your problem, not mine.

Joe, I agree with you on filibusters. The old way was better, and changing the rules and traditions of the Senate opened it up to this kind of ’obstructivism on the cheap.’ When something is working, why mess with it — ironically they thought this would make filibusters easier to overcome, rather than more frequent.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb’s inability to provide any method for the Senate to end debate with less than 60 votes on any piece of legislation proves my point. Thanks for playing.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Erb’s inability to provide any method for the Senate to end debate with less than 60 votes on any piece of legislation proves my point.
No — and you know it. My point was that the usual way of doing business was that people who opposed legislation would nonetheless agree to end debate, even if they knew the legilslation would not be passed. 60 votes to end the debate is NOT 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation. Face it, JWG, you can’t point to anything I’ve said wrong — and I’m absolutely right that the rules of the Senate do not require a filibuster, which was my point.

You’re playing games, JWG, but frankly, you don’t know when to give up.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
60 votes to end the debate is NOT 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation.
There it is, ladies and gentlemen...Erb has changed the original argument!

That was NEVER the argument, and Erb knows it.

I already linked to the original from McQ:
The rules state that to end debate in the Senate and move the bill to a vote, a vote of 60 Senators in the affirmative is necessary to end debate. Nothing, let me repeat that, nothing goes to a final vote until debate is ended. Even if everybody on both sides of the isle support the final bill, without 60 votes to end debate, it doesn’t go forward. So it isn’t about "something they don’t have to do" it is, as stated, a rule of the Senate.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Once again, I am reminded of a little "fake but accurate" story from the past that perfectly illustrates Erb Logic:
McX: The earth orbits the sun.

Erb: No, McX, you have no idea what you’re talking about. The earth is not in orbit around Alpha Centauri.

McX: Umm, my statement is accurate. Here is evidence. You’re talking about a different star.

Erb: You can’t point to anything I’ve said wrong — and I’m absolutely right that the earth does not orbit Alpha Centauri.
Perfect.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
There it is, ladies and gentlemen...Erb has changed the original argument!
Oh for crissake, let it go. I usually hesitate to intervene when someone is being this asinine, but for you to paint it as Erb who is missing the point and changing the subject - that’s too much. You’re calling the kettle black - setting aside the question of whether or not it actually is, you’re being an ass.

You have your little point that you are trying to argue, and that’s fine, but Erb is absolutely correct in saying that the purpose and use of the filibuster today are completely changed from what they had been for generations. The question about how commonplace this has to become before it stops being obstructionist and starts being "the way the Senate works" is semantics and spin on both sides, but at the heart of it Erb hasn’t misrepresented anything about the filibuster and even a windmill would deserve a break from your quixotic attacks, JWG.

Jesus. Please, just let it go.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Erb is absolutely correct in saying that the purpose and use of the filibuster today are completely changed
But that was not the argument made by McQ. Erb wants to paint the original argument as something other than what it was by claiming "even one of the bloggers here claimed it was simply ’Senate rules’ to need 60 votes to pass something."

Erb brought up the LIE and even claims he "won that debate then because [he] didn’t accept [my] shifting of the argument."

Erb is outright lying as my linked quote of the original debate proves.

You are simply supporting Erb’s lies.
but at the heart of it Erb hasn’t misrepresented anything about the filibuster
He is lying about what was said about "Senate Rules." Claiming the filibuster is not required under Senate Rules can be true while also being an absolute misrepresentation of what was said about the actual rules.

60 votes is REQUIRED for any and all legislation. Just because previous Senates were more likely to vote "yes" doesn’t change the rule.
You have your little point that you are trying to argue
I guess honestly portraying someone’s argument is a "little point". Frankly, I don’t give a sh!t if you’re tired of the debate. I refuse to allow Erb to lie and get away with it. You would rather help him.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Frankly, I don’t give a sh!t if you’re tired of the debate. I refuse to allow Erb to lie and get away with it. You would rather help him.
You would rather argue semantics about whether McQ or Erb said that 60 votes is needed to pass something, vs 60 votes is needed to decide whether to pass something. It’s asinine, and while you are trying to somehow refute Erb you are actually just talking past him. If you can’t see it, then maybe somebody needs to point it out to you.

I guess if it makes you happy, then good for you, but it’s tiresome the way the comment section always deteriorates into people railing "BORIS LIES! BORIS LIES!" Well, if you believe that he’s an incorrigible liar, then recognize that he won’t change and just have done with him. You have to respect somebody in order to have an honest argument with them. Which is it - admit that you respect him enough to continue, or admit that you disrespect him enough to shut up?
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Well, your point would probably have some meaning if you didn’t also find it necessary to point out when you believed others had misrepresented what you said.

It’s also ridiculous that you see only two avenues: Respect=Continue vs Disrespect=Shut up.

I respect Erb’s academic position and disrespect what he does with it. I also believe that to remain silent while someone is knowingly misrepresenting what I said is to allow others to accept his statements as accurate.

Although I must admit that my speaking out has not prevented you from being taken in by Erb’s switch. You completely bought Erb’s straw man and declare it "absolutely correct" while I am the ass for refusing to accept the straw man.
Which is it
I’ll tell you what — I’ll use your logic to demonstrate how much respect I have for you and your love of straw men.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Okay then, thanks for your consideration.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com

 
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