The Filibuster

From Carrots and Sticks buddy and advisor David Waldman:

In case you missed it — and very few of you did, from the looks of things — Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) has issued a call for reform of Senate cloture rules both on the floor of the Senate, and in a diary right here at Daily Kos.

You can review the Senator’s diary for a run-down on the logic behind what Republicans called the “constitutional option” when they were threatening to invoke it in 2005, during a fight over President George W. Bush’s stalled judicial nominations. The facts and the history are correct, and will give you a good general background on where Udall is coming from. And in case you were wondering, one difference between what we knew as the “nuclear option” and Republicans called the “constitutional option” was that the scholarly writing (PDF) which gave Republicans their preferred name for this maneuver was very, very clear about the conditions under which the option was justified under the precedents: at the beginning of a new Congress. Republicans, of course, wanted to ignore most of the “constitutional” part, but keep the “option” anyway.

What I always say, and what I told David the other day, is that sooner or later the Republicans will be in charge and they’ll pull the trigger and end the filibuster. They took a run at doing that a few years ago despite the timing being illegitimate and the issue only being of moderate importance. If an important party goal was at stake and reconciliation couldn’t be used they won’t hesitate to weather a few rounds of media condemnations.

Beyond speculation on the future the Republicans have already end-rounded the filibuster via reconciliation to explode the deficit, so unwillingness by the Democrats to use the reconciliation process on deficit reducing bill like health care creates a substantial disequilibrium in the system.

-Chris

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