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Why Republicans are taking 30 more hours

When you take a vote on cloture -- a vote on whether the Senate can then move to a vote on passage -- there are a few odd rules you have to follow. The first is you have to wait two days between when you file for a cloture vote and take a cloture vote. The second is that the minority can take 30 hours of post-cloture debate. Usually, they don't. What's really the point?

Today, Republicans are. The practical effect of this on the unemployed is that people whose unemployment benefits expired weeks ago will have to wait slightly longer before their benefits resume. If they've got bills due, it means they're reliant on short-term loans at incredibly high interest rates. Given that Republicans say they support unemployment benefits and just oppose increases in the deficit for things that aren't the Bush tax cuts, it's quite a cruel way for them to press their point.

The effect on the Senate is that it eats up time that could be used to do other things, like consider nominations, debate other pieces of legislation, work on the mundane bills that keep the government running, and all the rest of it. This is what Sen. Kent Conrad calls "slow-walking," and it's effective: The more floor time Republicans can chew up in procedural maneuvers like this one, the less time there is for Democrats to actually accomplish things. And the less Democrats can do, the less the American people will think of them.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
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I thought congressional scholars like Norman Ornstein are calling this Congress one of the most effective ever at passing legislation. Is Ezra right or are the commentors who are calling this Congress so effective right?

I am betting on men like Norman Ornstein who have been around a lot longer than Ezra Klein.

Posted by: lancediverson | July 21, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Just like the Ministry of "Truth" in Orwell's 1984 kept pushing for MORE AND MORE effectiveness.

Posted by: clawrence12 | July 21, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Repeating from yesterday, at start of next congress, Dems should alter the filibuster and tell the Repubs to do the same to them as soon as they're back in power. Poof.

And by the way, if the Dems don't do it, the Repubs are going to do it to them the next time they regain power anyway.

It sort of seems like the obvious next step.

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | July 21, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering when exactly people in the media will inform the average citizen that Republicans are filibustering everything.

Yeah, technically it's a hold. Or a slow walk. Or a whatever. But the reality is that the American people understand "filibuster" as a catch-all term for "extraordinary action to try and kill a piece of legislation that can only be overcome by an extraordinary effort by its supporters."

They're filibustering a bill AGAIN even though their filibuster has already been beaten. They're filibustering nominations of people they VOTE for. They're filibustering everything, all the time, and it's insane.

But nobody knows this. Why do we bother having reporters at all?

Posted by: theorajones1 | July 21, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"the less time there is for Democrats to actually accomplish things"

Granted, Republicans are slime but, as you point out, their actions do have some benefits.

Posted by: ostap666 | July 21, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I do think less of the Dems and was able to tell the poor DSCC caller so just yesterday. They need to get out in front of filibuster reform/abolition, but I'm sure they won't. They're like Mensheviks in the face of conservative radicalism.

Posted by: DeliciousPundit | July 21, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I don't get this one so much. It doesn't fit with the "we want to extend benefits for the unemployed, we just want a revenue-neutral bill" story line.

How does this fit with that story? Any of the right wing crazies on here want to help me out?

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 21, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Maybe someone can enlighten me: are they not allowed to do ANYTHING during the 30 hour waiting period? I mean, couldn't they act on other issues while waiting to take the final vote on the item which had reached cloture?

Posted by: guesswhosue | July 21, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

eggnogfool has the right screen name. Well the fool part anyway.

Was he (she?) (it?) expecting a response? How silly.

I'm loving the delay. It is a tactic the Democrats used in their turn when they were the minority. Short memory is a ubiquitous condition.

and by all means, fire up journolist and develop a response. Go ahead and report to an angry electorate that the Republicans in congress are slowing down the legislature.

Imagine the outrage: no new taxes, no new bureaucrats, no new and unfathomable regulation. Yeah, I can well imagine just how upset Americans would be to hear that!

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 21, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Thank God for any delays Republicans can put in front of this regimes march to statism. History will not be kind to this regime. Pelois, Dodd, Frank, Obama will be rightfully vilified for the destruction to the Nation they have rendered in such a short period of time.

November will not be kind to them. There will be a massive shift in Congress and then we can try and roll back the damage that has been done to the Nation and the Constitution.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | July 21, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse


I understand delaying and obstructing in general, I just don't understand trying to delay receipt of income support for the unemployed when you are publicly saying that you want to get income support to the unemployed as soon as possible.

Do you have any comparable example of the Dems forcing every last minute of delay on legislation they were publicly saying they supported? Or are you just making stuff up?

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 21, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse


The Senate can act on other items during the 30 hour waiting period. That does not easily comport however with the liberal storyline they are trying to build on the so-called "problems" with the filibuster.

Remember that Republicans will very likely control the Senate after the 2012 and 2014 elections when one does a quick look at the Senators that are up for election in 2012 and 2014... almost all Democrats.

Posted by: lancediverson | July 21, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

How to tell when a leftie has nothing: I get called skippy.

As I said the last part of the screen name seems apt. I'm 59. do you think this is the first time someone who was totally lacking in wit called me Skippy? Please. Get a better writer. I hear that Weigel is looking for work.

And once again the liberals rationalize their double standard. Just so amusing. I remember when people started speaking out about Obama in a negative way. the reaction from the left was predictable. I simply directed the undies in a wad squad to "zombie" web site. he has a nifty photo gallery of death threats aimed at Bush.

but, but, they all spluttered, our cause was NOBLE so whatever we did it was right.

OK fine. So stop whining. If them's the rules now, don't complain when you're opponents use the rules and plays to win.

Are you saying that little chuckie schumer and co are white as the driven snow? Give it a rest.

And find some new material.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm embarrassed that I've been a Republican. Not anymore. I'm 35 and I've spent a lot of years defending my position even when I didn't feel it was right as a Republican. This ridiculous example has affected my family and I more than I'd like to talk about right now. I have 3 kids and this economy has wiped out all of our savings and left us with little money to eat on. I've always worked hard and I always pay my taxes on time without a complaint. I lost my job last year and the outcome has been devastating. I just took a part time job making about 10% of what I use to make so that I have gas to make it to interviews. Why would they drag this on for 30 more hours?? Seriously?? Ridiculous and embarrassing.... Why don't they spend those 30 hours doing something good for our country?? How does a person change their party? My loyal Republican days are over. Sorry President Reagan. I still love you but, I've grown up a little. I'm sorry to President Obama for not voting for him. I guess we all live and learn.

Posted by: amyj1 | July 21, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse


"As I said the last part of the screen name seems apt. I'm 59. do you think this is the first time someone who was totally lacking in wit called me Skippy? Please."

Yes...there's nothing more pathetic than lame insults based on someone's screen name...excellent post.

Unfortunately, the fact that you have 0 examples to support your previous post kinda kills your whole argument.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 21, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

@amyj1: "Why would they drag this on for 30 more hours?? Seriously??"

I'm sure they'd drive to your door and spit on you if they could, but I'm sure this feels about the same and takes less effort on their part. Win/win to them.

Sorry for your situation, and good luck on the job hunt.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Nah, I don't see that my argument is weakened at all. I remember the shenanigans. You conveniently don't.

I hear that stem cell research may help you with your condition. The technical term for which is CRS

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 21, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"Nah, I don't see that my argument is weakened at all. I remember the shenanigans. You conveniently don't."

I asked for 1 example. You've provided 0.

If there is 0 evidence to support your argument, well, that's just not a lot to me. To be fair, 0 evidence seems to meet the evidentiary thresshold for conservatives quite often, but I have a fairly picky brand of philosophical empiricism.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 21, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Again, are you saying that little chuckie Schumer & Co are pure as the driven snow? Is it your position that the Democrats have NEVER used procedural rules to delay action planned by the majority?


Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 21, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

and yes, I am baiting you. I KNOW what went on. It took me seconds to find a story just for you.

but I'll wait for you to deliver your considered opinion that the Democrats in the Senate have NEVER used procedural rules to hamper the republicans.

So, by all means, prove that you really did get your screen name right.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 21, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse


no, actually my position is what i said it was in my earlier post.

I don't recall the Dems obstructing legislation that they were publicly claiming to support, especially in situations where the delays directly hurt the ability of millions of americans to put food on their families tables.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 21, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

OK fine, here ya go:

the link won't work on this comment board and it is a lengthy address. but hey, do what I did google Democrat senate delay 2004 and this article should pop right up.

Here's a couple of juicy quotes, just for you:

This is from the article which originally appeared in the LA Times
"The delaying tactic reflects many Democrats' opposition to controversial Bush policies in the bill especially proposed new limits on overtime pay and a delay in meat-safety rules. But it also was a warning shot signaling Democrats' fresh determination to stand united in opposition to GOP policies as the parties battle on the campaign trail."

Does that sound familiar to you? Perhaps you are younger than I?

How about this quote:
"Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who supported the bill but voted to sustain the filibuster for now, said Democrats wanted to "make a point, then move on.""

Ben Nelson, he of the cornhusker kickback wanted to make a point and move on? Really? For Shame Mr Nelson!!! doesn't that mean that they delayed it then and voted for it later? Why yes it does!

so the Democrats were fine with delaying meat inspection rules? Yeah, you're going home to momma: But, but, but, our stuff is IMPORTANT.

Yeah, right.

and my goodness look at this quote:

"Daschle predicted the omnibus spending bill This article or section may deal primarily with the U.S. and may not present a worldwide view. would pass before then, but he said he wanted to turn up the pressure on Republicans to try to fix provisions that Democrats found offensive."

Can you imagine? Why the Democrats, when they were in the minority, actually employed procedural rules to achieve a legislative goal! Why how dare the Republicans do the same thing now that they are in the minority!

don't those foolish Republicans understand liberal rule number one: "do as we say, not as we do"?

thanks for providing some comic relief. I appreciate it.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 21, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

This is inane and stupid. The Senate needs to pass something that eliminates the filibuster in six years or however long they think it will be so that nobody knows who will be in charge. It's bad for the body and bad for the country.

Posted by: MosBen | July 21, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"the Democrats, when they were in the minority, actually employed procedural rules to achieve a legislative goal! Why how dare the Republicans do the same thing now that they are in the minority!"

Yeah, that's my point. The Dems used their powers to try to achieve legislative goals, opposing legislation they opposed.

That makes sense.

The Republicans are using their influence to oppose what they say they support. That doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 21, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

In other words, you agree that the Democrats have used procedural rules to achieve their goals.

but of course for mere Republicans to do the same thing is simply verbotten.

I can't wait for Mr Ackerman to give me the old plate glass treatment for this, but you've just been had. I think the internet term is pwned. but hey you can take cold comfort in your belief that the Democrats acted on principle, right?

Just too funny.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 21, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually, skipsalling28....... There really shouldn't be a political debate about the point of dragging this out another 30 hours. It doesn't prove anything except for hurt people like me and make me wonder how I'm going to pay for diapers tomorrow. It's millions of people like me that have been "had". I realize my vote is only 1 but, it counts as much as yours in the future and this isn't good for Republicans.

Posted by: amyj1 | July 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I just wish your closing could have read "The more floor time Republicans can chew up in procedural maneuvers like this one, the less the American people will think of them."

That the GOP is not taking a huge hit for this is beyond me.

The only redeeming thing may be that they are now painted into a corner (if the amnesiac press can recall this in a few months) on having to pay for some of the Bush tax cut extensions that they are demanding.

Posted by: RalfW | July 21, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

"The Senate can act on other items during the 30 hour waiting period."

Uh, no. Rule XXII:

"After no more than thirty hours of consideration of the measure, motion, or other matter on which cloture has been invoked, the Senate shall proceed, without any further debate on any question, to vote on the final disposition thereof to the exclusion of all amendments not then actually pending before the Senate at that time and to the exclusion of all motions, except a motion to table, or to reconsider and one quorum call on demand to establish the presence of a quorum (and motions required to establish a quorum) immediately before the final vote begins. The thirty hours may be increased by the adoption of a motion, decided without debate, by a threefifths affirmative vote of the Senators duly chosen and sworn, and any such time thus agreed upon shall be equally divided between and controlled by the Majority and Minority Leaders or their designees. However, only one motion to extend time, specified above, may be made in any one calendar day."

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | July 21, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

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