Even with fifty-four (or fifty-five, counting Angus King from Maine) votes in the majority Democratic Party caucus the United States Senate is going to have to overcome the hurdle of the minority party’s obstruction via the filibuster and the senate’s arcane rules. There is, of course, a record.
The obstructionist history of the United States Senate:
Senate Action on Cloture Motions
Congress Years Motions Filed Votes on Cloture Cloture Invoked
112 2011-2012 109 68 37
111 2009-2010 137 91 63
110 2007-2008 139 112 61
109 2005-2006 68 54 34
108 2003-2004 62 49 12
107 2001-2002 71 61 34
106 1999-2000 71 58 28
105 1997-1998 69 53 18
104 1995-1996 82 50 9
103 1993-1994 80 46 14
102 1991-1992 60 48 23
101 1989-1990 38 24 11
100 1987-1988 54 43 12
99 1985-1986 41 23 10
98 1983-1984 41 19 11
97 1981-1982 31 27 10
96 1979-1980 30 21 11
95 1977-1978 23 13 3
Gee, which party lost their majority in the 2006 election and decided to use arcane rules to obstruct everything?
Their initials begin with the republican party.
Another View: Snowe does not put blame for dysfunction in the right place
Over-use of the filibuster by Republicans, including Snowe, led to the Senate’s problems.
By Bill Harnsberger, who lives in Portland
….Sen. Snowe did not tell the whole story in her letter when she said that “essentially 60 votes are required to pass legislation” in the United States Senate.
The reason those 60 votes are “essentially” required now is because, since they lost their grip on the majority, Republicans have systematically abused Senate rules to grind the chamber’s business to a halt.
Sixty votes are required to overcome the threat of a filibuster and move a bill to the Senate floor.
Once that threshold is passed, only 51 votes – a simple majority – are needed to actually pass the bill.
The filibuster was used an average of once a year between 1920 and 1970. During the 2009-2010 session – President Obama’s first year in office – it was employed by Republicans more than 130 times, derailing legislation that could have created jobs and gotten our economy chugging along at a much healthier pace.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly stated that his No. 1 goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
Instead of doing the people’s business, McConnell and his Republican colleagues, including Sen. Snowe, coldly abused Senate rules to gum up the works and derail Obama’s agenda.
Sen. Snowe went along with McConnell’s plan and now has the gall to claim, essentially, that “both sides do it.”
Well, both sides don’t do it. Republicans alone are responsible for the gridlock in the Senate … end of story….
And the conventional wisdom labeled Olympia Snowe (r) a “moderate”.
Fix it? We ain’t holding our breath:
Posted at 05:01 PM ET, 11/09/2012
Beginning of the end? Half the Senate now supports filibuster reform
By Greg Sargent
It appears that Tuesday’s results have resulted in a bit of a milestone in the push to fix our broken Senate: Half of the 2013 Senate now supports some form of filibuster reform.
The train seems to be moving forward….
We’re hoping Senator Claire McCaskill (D) is on that bandwagon. We’ve inquired about this in the past:
….If the NFL operated the way the United States Senate does there’d be no scoring. “Uh, we can theoretically block a field goal so we don’t need to actually do so.”
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): a conversation with bloggers in Kansas City (January 20, 2011)
….Blue Girl: One in nine federal judgeships, first question here, uh, they, you know, Congress, the hundred eleventh adjourned before the Senate could even consider hundreds of bills, uh, nothing’s been getting done, uh, this did not happen because it takes sixty votes to break a filibuster but because the minority can force the entire Senate to waste up to thirty hours ever, ever, every time the Senate holds a vote. What reforms do you support to stop this obstruction of even the most uncontroversial business?
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): Um, well the good news is that we did get twenty-two of them through, um, judges through, uh, by, by unanimous consent right before we adjourned. So, that’s good. Um, I do think the secret hold thing is really important because if you own it then you gotta explain it. And what happens is these guys hold these things secretly and then they, of course, vote for the nominees when they’re for, forced to.
Blue Girl: Right.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): So, you having the ability just to gum things up without anybody ever taking ownership is a huge problem. I am optimistic that we are gonna get the rule change on secret holds. Um, I think that is really hard for the other side to justify as they’re preaching transparency and accountability. I don’t know how they don’t accept a change in the rules to do away with the secret hold. And I think you do away with the secret hold it has an amazing ability to clean some of this stuff up. Now, do we make the changes in the filibuster? I would love to see the people who are filibustering have to be the ones to produce the forty. I’d love to see the people who are doing the filibustering have to hold the floor. I’d love for the people to see an actual filibuster.
Blue Girl: Yeah.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): Instead of the procedural way they’ve done it, which is they quietly object and then they kind of skulk off and the majority is left there to hold the floor and, and for the thirty hours and the staff [crosstalk] is there and so [crosstalk]…
Blue Girl: They should read about the Polish Sejm.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): Uh, yeah. So, so, um, but the question is, are we willing to break what has been traditional precedent in the Senate and change the rules by a simple majority vote? And once we do that then we need to realize that it can always be done. And that means that the Republicans could do the same thing if they took the majority in two years. And we have to realize the rules they may want to change may not be as reasonable and modest as the rule changes we want. [crosstalk]
Michael Bersin, Show Me Progress: But does, but does anybody expect that, you know, given their past behavior that they wouldn’t do that anyway?
Blue Girl: Yeah.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): I think it’s really hard for them to do that anyway. I think it’s very hard. I think, um, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s kind of what happened with the nuclear option. As you remember, there was a group of Republicans that wanted to do this when Democrats, uh, were blocking Bush’s judicial nominees. And it was in fact a group of moderate Republicans that said, no, we’re not gonna do this. And it didn’t happen. If it had happened I don’t know, you know, we probably would have had some significant rule changes along the lines that a lot of people are talking about now. You know, the Republicans make the point, and it is a valid point, how often we fill the tree. Um, we have filled the tree a lot. We have not given the Republicans an opportunity to offer amendments and so it’s almost like an escalating warfare here. Um, and the reason that we fill the tree is because they’re, I think the leadership thought it was a good idea to keep us from having to waste time on voting on amendments that were not germane. What I affectionately call the gotcha amendments. And [crosstalk]…
Blue Girl: Poison pills.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): The, yeah, poison pills. Um, at the end of the day. It’s probably what you signed up for when you go to the United States Senate, that you’ve got to cast difficult votes. And I’m one of the senators that is encouraging leadership to not always fill the tree, to allow open amendment process. Um, so, we’ll see what happens on the rules. But I, I’m gonna be surpri, we’ve all signed a letter saying we want these rule changes. And I am supporting these rule changes. And I’m hopeful these rule changes happen. Um, but if they don’t I think we’ve got to, you know, decide, um, how far are we willing to go and what are the consequences of that long term for the Senate and for the minority, not just in the current scenario….
U.S. Senate on Filibuster Reform: “Yeah, whatever.” (January 27, 2011)
All that did was make me mad (May 11, 2012)
….That Harry Reid and the Democrats didn’t change the rules in January of 2011 when the tea party idiots who had been elected in November were seated was nothing short of political malpractice….
There is something of a good side to this. Think about it. The republican minority in the U.S. Senate, with only forty-five votes, can’t really do anything to stop Obamacare, nor can they force the continuation of dubya’s windfall tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.