The other problem with the filibuster
We tend to think of the filibuster mainly in terms of the problems it causes when the minority has more than 40 votes. But as reader BC e-mails, it's also a problem when the minority has less than 40 votes and the filibuster can be easily broken:
Thanks for pointing out something that's bugged me over the last few months about debate on the filibuster - namely, that there are two - not one - issues contained in Rule XXII: (1) the 30 hour rule; and (2) the 3/5 rule.
It is the 30-hour rule (plus the two-day "hold" on cloture motions) that gives 2/5 or less of the Senate - or even a single Senator - the power to block legislation even when the majority has the 60 votes it needs to end debate. People keep talking about the "hold" as if it has magical properties. But it doesn't. What it is to force the scheduling of meaningless "debate" time - i.e., debate that has to be scheduled even when 60 Senators are willing to end debate.
It's one thing, on, say, the occasional "major" bill, to have to schedule a "meaningless" 30 hours of debate. It's quite another to have to schedule that 30 hours of meaningless debate on a pile of nominations (e.g., Senator Shelby's recent effort to put a hold on 70 nominations) or on bill after bill that has 60, 70 or 99 votes in its favor.
Even if the Senate continues to be wedded to the 3/5 rule, it could still eliminate this other rule which gives 2/5 of the Senate, or a single Senator, undeserved power.
More on this subject here.
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