Saturday, January 30, 2010

Make Them Do It

Karen Tumulty has been advocating for almost three years now that when faced with the threat to filibuster the majority party “make [the minority party] do it.” What gets Tumulty is that, for all the talk about filibusters, we don’t actually see any Senator take to the floor and talk without interruption for hours or days ala Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

Every now and again there will be a report that, given Rule 22, you don’t have to filibuster to filibuster. That is, invoking a cloture motion is sufficient to spike a bill without refusing to yield the floor. While this has been true in practice for the last two decades or so, it is not strictly speaking true. Cloture is simply a motion to compel the cessation of debate, it is not necessary to invoke cloture to actually vote on a bill. Thus, failure of a cloture means that debate cannot be compelled to end but it does not mean that the bill in question does not come to the floor.

So, make them do it. If the Republicans want to be obstructionists—and, to be sure, they do—then let’s have them expend the political capital, time, and energy required to be the Party of No. All this would require is for the Democrats to schedule votes and maintain 51 Senators on the floor—a quorum. With a quorum, the Republicans would be forced to talk until exhaustion or until there was no longer a quorum to prevent a vote.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I'd make them do it and not schedule a vote. Maybe reading the phonebook on C-SPAN for 10 days would make them a little more agreeable?