January 29, 2011
When Congress convened earlier this month, senators Merkley, Udall, and Harkin introduced a package of proposals to reform Senate rules—including, most notably, the filibuster. But the proposal failed to gain traction in the Senate, and, on Thursday, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell announced a deal that confirmed what reformers feared: the filibuster as we know it will remain. The big mystery for me in all this is why the reformers were so insistent in their package of proposals on forcing “live,” or “talking,” filibusters.
Senate Reform Goes Dormant (But It's Not Dead)
January 27, 2011
Both Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent interpret today’s agreement on Senate reform -- in which Harry Reid explicitly and apparently unconditionally pledged not to attempt to change the rules with a simple majority vote -- as the end of the road for reform. The reasoning? Since neither party will ever reach the 67 votes it takes to unilaterally change the rules by using the rules, the only way significant reforms will happen will be through either a majority vote, or, perhaps more likely, in response to a threat of a majority vote.
The Long Game
January 27, 2011
Last week, on the same day that Hu Jintao was dining with Barbra Streisand and Jackie Chan at the White House, there was another piece of less welcome news about China: According to a statement issued by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of activists, Hu’s government had recently disseminated a list of “requirements and prohibitions” for journalists during the coming year. The rules included a ban on the use of the phrase “civil society.” This revelation was not front-page news, of course—and, in the sense that it represented nothing out of the ordinary, it shouldn’t have been.
Senate Dems Throw In the Towel
January 24, 2011
Last month, every member of the Senate Democratic caucus signed a letter signalling support for reforms that would end anonymous holds and force the minority to actually mount a continuous debate if it wanted to block a bill, rather than require a supermajority vote even to begin a debate: All Democratic senators returning next year have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging him to consider action to change long-sacrosanct filibuster rules. The letter, delivered this week, expresses general frustration with what Democrats consider unprecedented obstruction and as
A Not-Very-Flattering Defense Of Lieberman
January 21, 2011
It's not surprising that David Brooks would devote a column to praising Joe Lieberman as a paragon of principled moderation. What's surprising is the evidence he summons to make this case: After Barack Obama won the election, the hammer came down. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, told Lieberman that some Democrats wanted to strip him of his chairmanship of the homeland security committee. Lieberman, an independent, said if that happened then he might not be able to vote with the Democratic caucus.
Republicans Learn To Hate The Filibuster
January 19, 2011
Brad notes, hilariously, that Republicans have been running the House for a week and they're already flip-flopping on the merits of the filibuster: Earlier this morning, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor kept insisting to reporters, "The Senate ought not to be a place where legislation goes into a dead end." (He said some variation of this three times.) Cantor's frustrated because the House is all set to repeal health care reform, and Harry Reid has said he's not even going to bother bringing the bill up for consideration in the still-barely-Democratic Senate.
‘Right of Revolution’
January 11, 2011
In the wake of the Tucson massacre, the left is attributing the violence at least partially to a “climate of hate” encouraged by anti-government extremists on the right—the phrasing used by Paul Krugman in his latest column—a reaction made easier by conservatives’ frequent use of violent and intimidating rhetoric since 2008. Conservatives have responded by alleging the politicization of a random act of violence by a lunatic, and sought to place themselves in the ranks of victims of the event.
Will Senate Reform Happen?
December 23, 2010
One little-known fact about the filibuster is that it no longer requires the minority to hold the floor and make long speeches. It actually requires the supermajority to assemble and hold the floor to break it. Here's some good news.
‘Senator Junior DeMint’
December 23, 2010
With all the hullabaloo surrounding Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller during the midterms, it was easy to lose track of some equally conservative, but less flamboyant, candidates. And it seems safe to say that no Tea Partier had more success while garnering less national attention than Mike Lee. While running for Senate, the 39-year-old Utah Republican proposed dismantling the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The GOP's Secret Senate Plan
December 17, 2010
One of the oddities of the debate over repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell is that Republican moderates seem far more interested in procedure than substance. They favor repeal, but they oddly seem to care more that the Senate hew to Mitch McConnell's run-out-the-clock timetable than they care about the outcome of the issue: Here's what Sen.