Partisan politics tends to bring out out the bile, and few subjects have a more emetic effect than the filibuster. The procedural
move, never or rarely used until recent years, now dominates
Congress because it forces the Senate to secure a super-majority of 60
votes to pass anything. That puts every piece of major legislation--particularly health care reform--under a heavy and sometimes
insurmountable burden. It also means that a single Senator -- say, Joe
Lieberman -- can hold the entire Congress hostage
. But overturning the filibuster requires 67 votes, a supermajority that would require members of the minority to vote against the procedural move that so strengthens them. Nevertheless, the New Republic's Nicholas Stephanopoulos has an idea for how Democrats could do it
There is no way Republican senators would agree to the immediate
abolition of the filibuster. But what if the proposal on the table was
to get rid of the filibuster in 2017? By then, even a potential second
Obama term would have ended. Every sitting senator would have faced
re-election at least once. And, most importantly, there is no way to
know which party would be in the majority and which would be in the
A debate now on whether to eliminate the filibuster in the future would transform senators’ decision-making calculus.
While many liberal blogs complain about how terrible the filibuster is
, it's rare to see a serious effort at overturning it,
especially in a way that could harm Democrats in the short run. As Stephanopoulos notes, it's entirely possible that the
filibuster ban would go into effect under a Republican-majority
Congress. Everyone claims to hate the filibuster, but whether
Stephanopoulos's idea is embraced by liberals in the blogosphere and
Democrats in Congress will demonstrate just how true that is.
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