The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

24 April 2005

Another sub-nuclear option

(A previous sub-nuclear option here.)

How about a declining vote requirement for cloture? Right now, it takes 60 votes to cut off a Senate filibuster. Under this plan, should it fail on the first vote, subsequent votes would require fewer votes: say, 57, then 54. Finally, on the fourth vote, a simple majority — 51 votes — would be sufficient to end the debate.

I didn't invent this; Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) did, back in 1995.

(Via John Rosenberg.)

Posted at 10:17 AM to Political Science Fiction

It's a good idea. Therefore, it'll probably never get passed.

Posted by: Patti at 10:51 AM on 24 April 2005

I wrote about this a few weeks ago: the filibuster is designed to prevent against the tyranny of the majority, a cause of concern for no less than James Madison himself, the primary author of the Constitution (not the "Constitutional Option," to be clear).

I think the best way to restore the balance of power is to restore the filibuster to its pre-1990s methods: require senators to actually take and hold the floor to prosecute a filibuster. That way, one wacko or even two or three people won't be able to keep it up forever, but the entire block of the minority certainly can, if they're willing to hold the Senate floor and be filmed on C-SPAN doing it and look silly in front of the country.

If it's that important, it should be available. If it's not, then telling the leader "I filibuster" and going to have a lovely merlot shouldn't be an option.

Posted by: Matt at 12:30 PM on 24 April 2005

Truth be told, I don't think there's that many Senators who fear looking silly on C-Span, but this appeals to my bring-it-on sense. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 1:56 PM on 24 April 2005

I for one would be a great deal less aggravated by the present "filibusters" if they were real, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibusters rather than the namby-pamby wannabe formality that bears the name today. So I'm with Matt at least somewhat -- for judicial nominees I still prefer that filibustering be eliminated entirely, including for Democrats' nominees in the future.

And for all filibustering that remains permissible, make 'em bring chamber pots into the, er, chamber.

Posted by: McGehee at 6:23 AM on 25 April 2005