How to end obstruction by filibuster
The reason the Senate now requires 60 votes to pass a law is because of unforeseen consequences of a long-ago change in Senate rules implemented by Robert Byrd, I learned from Ezra Klein’s blog. Used to be, a filibuster ground all work to a halt. It was the nuclear option—which is why it was only employed in matters of the gravest importance, such as when Strom Thurmond and others wanted to make sure African-Americans remained second-class citizens.
Byrd introduced “dual tracking,” by which the Senate for the first time became able to consider more than one bill at a time. Suddenly, a commenter of Klein’s writes,
filibusters became almost pain-free. A Senator simply had to announce they intended to filibuster and the Majority Leader would use his dual track authority to move to other business and get around the road block. Over time, most leaders simply did a whip check and declined to schedule a bill if a filibuster was possible.
Both Hill experts and political scientists argue that the reason [this has been allowed to stand], basically, is that…ending the dual tracking would be the same as shutting down the government. It would be a high-stakes showdown over a Senate rule change, which is not something that many in the Senate have evinced much interest in attempting.
I’ve got a simple solution: The Senate Majority leader declines to use dual track authority, and forces the other side to filibuster.
There was a time, before C-Span, when Senators opposed to some bill they found particularly heinous literally held the floor for 18 or 24 hours at a time. Let’s see them try that today. How do you think it’d look? Like Newt Gingrich shutting down the government in 90-whatever-it-was, that’s how.
Here’s another way to get around a filibuster of the health-care bill: The Majority Leader brings to the floor another bill the 40-vote group won’t vote for. Say, a 95% income tax on Senators from the minority party. A ban on Viagra.
Then what are they gonna do?
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