01 July 2009

On Paper Only

Quote of the Day:
We have 60 votes on paper only. This will help us procedurally but we're still going to have obstacles to overcome, including two sick Senators and the fact that not every Democrat is going to stick with the caucus on every single vote.
-A senior Democratic aide, commenting to Roll Call yesterday on the certification of Al Franken as the junior senator from Minnesota.

Just because Democrats have 60 members in the Senate doesn't mean they will always vote as a block. Depending on the legislation, the conservative Dems (Nelson of Nebraska, Lincoln of Arkansas, Hagan of North Carolina, Feinstein of California, etc.) may balk at legislation they deem too far left. Likewise, liberal Dems (Feingold of Wisconsin, Boxer of California, Franken of Minnesota, etc.) will vote against a conservative agenda. And that is the way it should be. I prefer our senators vote for or against legislation based on that delicate combination of their own convictions and the wishes of their constituents back home. When the Republicans were in the majority they demanded unquestioned loyalty from their caucus. The result is that they have very few moderates left in their ranks and they have become a battered and bitter minority party.

On major legislation or when Republicans are blocking something for no good reason, I hope the 60 stick together. But more than that, I would like to see the majority leader, Harry Reid, demand that any senator calling a filibuster stand on the Senate floor and talk, non-stop, until the chamber can cobble together the 60 votes to end it (or until the senator ends the filibuster of his or her own free will).

THAT is a filibuster. Demanding 60 votes for every piece of legislation based on the THREAT of a filibuster is a super-majority. There's a difference.