Trying to Bust the Filibuster

This year the Democrats have enjoyed a filibuster proof congress and they have revelled in knowing they could pass any piece of legislation without being stopped by the Republicans.

But now they are facing their Waterloo in November, knowing that they will lose their majority in at least the House of  Representatives thus knowing that any further legislation could die through filibustering by the Republicans. And the Democrats want to change the law.

The Liberals are arguing that Filibustering isn’t what the Founders counted on, that it’s not even found in the Constitution. They argue that filibustering back in 1950 was only used on a rare occasion in an emergency situation.

But that restraint is gone. Now it is invoked more than once a week. And every major bill is a target. Health reform escaped by a single vote. Climate change would almost surely go down by filibuster, a key reason it’s not expected to pass this year.

This has to change. We chose this president, and we chose this Congress with a majority of Democrats. That should be enough to pass legislation NJ Star Ledger

The editorial staff of the New Jersey Star Ledger argues that the only way this rule could be changed would be by the “undemocratic” rules of the Senate would have to take a two-thirds majority, meaning that eight Republicans would have to approve of the move. Well, we know that won’t be happening.

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa proposed that a change be made that would only allow a filibuster to delay a vote but not kill it. But the editor admits that the Republicans wouldn’t go for that either and he’s right.

But the editor goes on to trash the rule of the Senate as being undemocratic. What this naive writer of the article doesn’t realize is that the Party in power is afforded the luxury of being able to pass bills without as much as a whimper from the minority. But when the environment changes due to the election or new members of Congress , then a lot of things change including who carries the biggest stick.

The editor needs to learn a bit of history on filibustering. It was first used in the year 1851 and, btw, it is constitutional since

The constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings. […] The power to make rules is not one which once exercised is exhausted. It is a continuous power, always subject to be exercised by the house, and, within the limitations suggested, absolute and beyond the challenge of any other body or tribunal.
The constitution provides that ‘a majority of each [house] shall constitute a quorum to do business.’ In other words, when a majority are present the house is in a position to do business. Its capacity to transact business is then established, created by the mere presence of a majority, and does not depend upon the disposition or assent or action of any single [144 U.S. 1, 6] member or fraction of the majority present. All that the constitution requires is the presence of a majority, and when that majority are present the power of the house arises Wikipedia

So other than the editor needing to look up the Constitutionality of filibustering, he should also get rid of the sour grapes. This IS the democratic process that’s been working quite well for over 250 years.


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