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Inside Baseball - the Senate, Cloture and Minority Power
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As anyone who follows politics knows (except for some professors of Political Science), the Senate requires 60 votes to pass just about anything (except those bills agreed to by unanimous consent).

And in the past few Congresses, the Senate has been fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats providing the minority party with a great deal of power.

The upcoming election may alter that balance significantly. Right now, it is expected that Democrats will have at least of total of 56 seats and, if they win all of the 4 highly contested races, that magic 60 seat majority that would disallow minority filibusters.

But even if they don't win any of those 4 contests, they still may have enough to guarantee passage of just about anything they want to pass.

First there are two "independents" - Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman - who caucus with the Democrats on most issues. So now the Democrats are in the 57 to 58 vote area depending on the issue.

The difference that will most likely push Democrats over the magic 60 vote threshold?

5 Republicans, of course. Two from Maine, one from Oregon, one from Pennsylvania and one from Ohio. As CQ points out:

Some moderate Republicans who were once viewed as good bets for re-election this year, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, have found themselves in competitive races with less than a month left before Election Day.
Even if Collins and Smith hold on against challengers Tom Allen and Jeff Merkley, they could be expected to help build bipartisan coalitions for Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., and against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky. — assuming McConnell wins re-election in what is a surprisingly close race with Democrat Bruce Lunsford.

[...]

Sens. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and George V. Voinovich of Ohio could be expected to vote frequently with the Democratic majority in 2009 — “the latter two because they are in cycle,” or up for re-election — the strategist said. “When you start to look at the issues over the past couple of years as well as the priorities that Obama and congressional Democrats will lay out, you can kind of chart early on a fairly repeated pattern of potentially successful cloture votes on issue after issue.”
For the first time in a long time, the minority in the Senate could be much like the minority in the House - ineffective and unable to stop much of anything.
“Any Democrat[ic] pick-ups beyond 55 essentially get you to 60 on almost any issue without exception, barring card-check and right to work,” a Republican strategist said, referring to two hot-button workplace issues that pit labor against business. “Whether you have replaced a Smith with a Merkley, a Collins with an Allen, or a Smith and a Collins remain, the ability of Reid to add them to his total to be able to invoke cloture, and the challenge for McConnell to keep them with him at 41 to beat cloture, is easy for Reid and increasingly hard for McConnell.”
And, of course, that means just about anything that Pelosi/Reid/Obama want would most likely sail through.

Thought you ought to know.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Keep in mind that the scuttlebutt is that if the Dems increase their majority at all, Reid is throwing Lieberman out of his positions on committees, which would probably serve to take 1 number off their caucus total.

Every seat counts at this point.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Sigh. It takes a majority to pass most bills. In the past, filibusters were used to try to prevent a vote. To make it easier to overcome filibusters, the rules were changed essentially moving the requirement to end a filibuster from 67 to 60, and not requiring long unending speeches. Lately, both parties have been abusing the filibuster often by not allowing important bills to come to a vote without getting 60 votes to end debate. But anyone who says you need sixty votes to approve a bill is objectively wrong. Once the vote is made to allow a bill to come to the floor, one who voted yes to having the vote can still vote no on the bill itself. And that bill does not need sixty votes to pass. Get it? Thank god you don’t teach.

Oh, Collins is in an easy race, I’m even going to vote for her. So the Republicans will keep two Senate seats in Maine.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
But anyone who says you need sixty votes to approve a bill is objectively wrong.
Erb, seriously, shut the f*ck up. You have your own blog. Go distort what people are saying over there. Your misdirections have been beaten to death over this topic.

The entire point is that a team needs to win the playoffs before it can win the championship. You know that’s the point with the 60 vote argument.

Enough with your weasle crap!
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Oh, Collins is in an easy race, I’m even going to vote for her
thanks for making the point that she’s nowhere near a conservative.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
I’m cool with Collins losing her seat
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I am from OR and voted against Smith solely on the fact he voted for the bailout. (Abstentee military vote)
 
Written By: Morgyman
URL: http://
Once the vote is made to allow a bill to come to the floor

both parties have been abusing the filibuster often by not allowing important bills to come to a vote (to the floor) without getting 60 votes to end debate.
your words, my slight addition for clarity....

Objectively, you’ve just demonstrated why 60 votes ARE needed and always will be as long as there are two or more parties.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Erb just wants to do his normal weasle trot.

If McQ stated that the Rays needed to win 11 games to be the MLB champions, the weasle Erb would argue that McQ didn’t know what he was talking about since the Rays would only need to win the 4 games of the world series.

"I’m a [weasle]; it’s my nature."
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
related
 
Written By: huh
URL: http://
@huh,

If I thought Kos was speaking metaphorically that would not have bothered me. I don’t though, and it did scare me a little.
 
Written By: nathan
URL: http://
Yeah, that sounds like a progressive forgiving kind of guy.
Just the sort of people I want in charge. And they say conservatives are violent?

We can sum up his philosophy, with an apocryphal quote from Ghengis Khan -
"crush your enemies, see them fall at your feet — take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best."

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
If there is one thing tried and true about democratic politics, it is that the majority party first acquires an arrogance and then acquires a carelessness which eventuates in corruption, bringing back the minority party into majority as agents of "change" or reform. This election is part of that cyclical pattern.

But something is growing sociologically which is ominous for our two-party system of alternating corruption and reform: America in the first decade of the 21C no longer has an ethnic majority, most people now work for large corporations instead of small businesses, the country is no longer majority Protestant (’protest’), and the majority population of the country has switched from rural to urban.

We appear to be slowly building a citizenry which will give permanent majority to only one political party, which if true, means entrenched, eternal corruption.

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Acton
 
Written By: a Duoist
URL: http://www.duoism.org
I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls,” Obama told me. “If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me, right? Because the way I’m portrayed 24/7 is as a freak! I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?
“I guess the point I’m making,” he went on, “is that there is an entire industry now, an entire apparatus, designed to perpetuate this cultural schism, and it’s powerful. People want to know that you’re fighting for them, that you get them. And I actually think I do. But you know, if people are just seeing me in sound bites, they’re not going to discover that. That’s why I say that some of that may have to happen after the election, when they get to know you.”
Guess who the illegitimate thug-in-chief is going to make his first target?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"most people now work for large corporations instead of small businesses"
Not really, though it depends on one’s definition of ’large corporation’. The workforce is split about 51-49 between firms employing less than 500 people (including single, self-employed people) and those at 500 or more. Only 37% of the workforce is employed by firms with 2,500 or more people and 26% at 10k or more. This is 2004 data I retrieved here.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
"I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal."

He forget "arugula-eating" but seriously, can Obama show me he is NOT the above? (Perhaps excusing the word "arrogrant" because that’s sort of subjective.)

 
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