A Broken United States Senate

While Paul Krugman writing in the New York Times believes that the healthcare reform legislation now on the verge of passage in the Senate is "an awesome achievement," I do not share those sentiments. Though there is certainly much of merit in the bill, overall it is a Frankenstein monster of bill whose sum of parts more reflects the narrow and profane interests that are overrepresented in the United States Senate. I do agree with Paul Krugman that the Senate has become "ominously dysfunctional." It is an institution that no longer works for the American people, one that produces flawed legislation no matter which party is in control and an institution that does not serve the national interest but instead caters to those who have access.

First let me state unequivocally that you can replace all one hundred of the Senators currently serving in the Senate and you would still have more or less the same inferior legislative product being delivered serving the same narrow interests. The problem is quite simply a mix of its composition that favors rural, more conservative sectors of the country over the more populous, urban and more progressive sectors of the country and the arcane rules that govern the body plus the insidious role that corporate lobbying and other monied interests now play in the nation's politics.

I have noted in previous posts that the 26 least populous states in the country who form a majority in the Senate represent just 17.8 percent of the nation's population according to the 2000 US Census. While these 26 include states like Vermont, Delaware and Rhode Island, of the 26 states 15 voted for McCain and 11 for Obama in 2008 but if we go back to 2004 then 19 of these 26 states voted for Bush versus just eight for Kerry (OR, CT, RI, ME, VT, HA, NH, DE). The most populous of these 26 states is Colorado and the least is Wyoming with the bulk of the states being a mixture of Southern, Prairie, Mountain West/Far West or New England states. Of these four regions, three are overwhelmingly rural and conservative and account for 20 of the 26 states. The United States is not the only country with a legislative body that overrepresents rural interests. Thailand and Japan have the same problem and not surprisingly suffer from many of the same problems that we do. The question of whether Thailand is a failed state or not is one that many Thai now discuss.

As the Republican Party is favored by rural and conservative interests, it too is overrepresented in the Senate though not to the extreme shown above. The GOP has 40 Senators at the moment but those seats represent just a fraction above 35 percent of the US population. Still that's an over-representation of 5 Senate seats, not an insignificant number in a 100 member body.

The composition of the body has subtle effects in perhaps unexpected ways. Since 1961 the Majority leaders in the body have come from Nevada (Reid), Tennessee (Frist), South Dakota (Daschle), Mississippi (Lott), Kansas (Dole), Maine (Mitchell), West Virginia (Byrd), Kansas (Dole), Tennessee (Baker), Montana (Mansfield). All but Tennessee (16th in population thanks to Nashville and Memphis but otherwise culturally similar) form part of these 26 least populated states. And if I include Minority leaders, I'd be adding Kentucky (McConnell) and would have to extend back until 1977 before I could find a Minority leader that came from one of the top 15 populated states, Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania.

There's a reason for this. It's reflective of the fact the Senators from the larger states are more burdened by serving in leadership roles. Senators from the more populated states have to cater to the needs of a much larger, broader and heterogenous constituency that they are effectively prevented from holding leadership positions. As the Senate's own website notes Senators "from small and large states alike all have comparable committee and floor responsibilities, Senators from the more populous states, such as California, face a broader array of representational pressures than do Senators from the smaller states, such as Wyoming. An indirect effect of Senate apportionment is that contemporary floor leaders of either party tend to come from the smaller rather than larger states because they can better accommodate the additional leadership workload."

The repercussions are that it further limits the interests of more diverse urban America from gaining currency. The last majority leader to come from one of the more populous state was Lyndon Johnson when the country was a vastly different place. This is in marked contrast to the House where members serve more or less the same size constituency and where the leadership tends to come from the more populated states. Speaker Pelosi hails from San Francisco and her predecessor was Dennis Hastert who represented Chicago. The last Speaker of the House who came from one of the least populated states was Carl Albert of Oklahoma in the 1970s.

But it is the arcane rules that are perhaps the greater problem and certainly the easier problems to correct because the rules that govern the Senate were created by the Senate itself. To change the way Senators are elected or the number of Senators would require a Constitutional amendment that is just never going to happen without tearing the country apart.

Two of the Senate rules are increasingly the problem. The US Senate is the only legislative body in the world that permits its members to engage in unlimited debate and an unlimited opportunity to offer amendments, relevant or not, to legislation under consideration. These two aspects of the Senate are having an increasing detrimental effect on the caliber of legislation that is coming out the chamber. Senator Nelson's compromise amendment runs 383 pages alone. And Senators can call for amendments to be read in full as happened this week when Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma requested that Senator Bernie Sanders' 767-page amendment that would have established a single-payer healthcare system be read aloud on the Senate floor in its entirety. The reading would have taken eight to ten hours and would have ground the Senate to a halt. Senator Sanders was forced to withdraw his amendment in the interest of keeping the Senate running. Still, the ability to offer amendments that are not even necessarily germane to the essential character of each piece of legislation being considered has a tendency to create these Frankenstein monstrosities.

Moreover, the United States Senate is the only legislative body in the world where each and every member is a gatekeeper with the ability to place holds on nominations and with the ability to derail the will of a majority via the use of the filibuster. Paul Krugman points to the increasing abuse of the filibuster.

Some people will say that it has always been this way, and that we've managed so far. But it wasn't always like this. Yes, there were filibusters in the past -- most notably by segregationists trying to block civil rights legislation. But the modern system, in which the minority party uses the threat of a filibuster to block every bill it doesn't like, is a recent creation.

The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, "extended-debate-related problems" -- threatened or actual filibusters -- affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.

And Matt Yglesias in The Atlantic last year covered the history in greater detail to support Barbara Sinclair's findings:

Back in 2005, Senate Democrats seeking to block the GOP majority portrayed the filibuster as a pillar of America's democratic tradition. In fact, it's no such thing. The original rules of the Senate allowed a simple majority of legislators to make a motion to end debate. In 1806, at the recommendation of Aaron Burr, those rules were amended to allow for unlimited argument--not to create a counter majoritarian check on legislation, but because the motion had been so rarely invoked that it "could not be necessary." This decision paved the way for the modern filibuster. But no one actually attempted to use it until 1837, when a minority block of Whig senators prolonged debate to prevent Andrew Jackson's allies from expunging a resolution of censure against him. The unlimited-debate rule eventually became so cumbersome that senators made attempts at reform in 1850, 1873, 1883, and 1890, all unsuccessful. Finally, in 1917, the Senate adopted a rule allowing a two-thirds super majority to cut off debate.

Under this rule, in the years that followed, segregationists mounted a series of filibusters meant to block civil-rights legislation. In 1922, the mere threat of the procedure was enough to torpedo a bill to prevent lynchings. In 1946, a filibuster undermined a bill by Senator Dennis Chavez of New Mexico intended to block workplace discrimination. Strom Thurmond set the record for longest individual filibuster--at more than 24 hours--in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to block the relatively mild Civil Rights Act of 1957. And the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 secured a filibuster-proof majority only after 57 days of debate and substantial watering down.

By 1975, the Senate was finally prepared for reform. But rather than eliminate the filibuster entirely and return to majority rule, the members merely diluted it, reducing the number of votes required to end debate from 67 to 60.

Since then, filibustering has only grown more frequent. In the 1960s, no Congress had more than seven filibusters. In the early 1990s, the 102nd Congress witnessed 47, more than had occurred throughout the entire 19th century. And that was not an especially filibuster-prone Congress--each subsequent one has seen progressively more. The 110th Congress, which just ended, featured 137.

Clearly, the filibuster has become the preferred tool to delay legislative because to delay is to derail and to kill. Senator Harkin has some ideas on the matter than should get consideration.

"I think, if anything, this health care debate is showing the dangers of unlimited filibuster," Harkin lamented last week. "I think there's a reason for slowing things down ... and getting the public aware of what's happening and maybe even to change public sentiment, but not to just absolutely stop something."

The plan that Senator is considering revisiting is the one that he announced with Senator Lieberman of Connecticut back in 1994 and that would have slowly scaled down the cloture threshold for legislation that had been filibustered. The first vote would require 60. If it failed to reach 60, debate would continue until a new vote, which would require 57, and so on until a simple majority could determine whether the measure lived or died.

Furthermore, as a Constitutional issue, the Senate does make its own rules, it can vote to change them. This would likely require a 60 vote super majority however.

My last point is the role of money in politics. K-Street is now a Washington institution but it's not in the Constitution. However, the lobbying machine points to the First Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits Congress from making laws that restrict the people's right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances." I question whether corporation have human rights.

Still it is the unbelievable growth of the lobbying industry that is remarkable. When LBJ was the Senate Majority Leader in 1961 there were under 50 lobbyists. Today there are over 23,000 lobbyists.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a watchdog agency that tracks the amount of money being spent to influence legislation, a record $263 million had been spent on the lobbying efforts between January and July of this year in our battle for health care reform. By September that number was up to $400 million. It's likely to surpass $500 million when all is said and done coming just ahead of last year's $486 million spent. But yes, that's right one billion dollars has been spent by the various healthcare lobbies over the past two years.

Common Cause found that one point this summer, the healthcare lobby was spending $1.4 million a day to lobby members of Congress. That comes out to about $2,600 per day per member of the House and Senate. The pharmaceutical lobby alone spent $733,000 per day in the first quarter of 2009. The number of lobbyists involved in this effort surpassed 3,300. There are six health care industry lobbyists for every member of Congress.

Now if you are a lobbyist what is your best use of funds? No doubt, the industry will spread the money around but in reality the money is highly targeted. Take the practice of switch-hitting. In 2000, with Republicans controlling the House and a closely-divided Senate, Republicans on health- related committees received more than double what Democrats received (68 percent to 32 percent) from the health industries. In 2008, with Democrats controlling both the House and Senate, over 61 percent of the industries' contributions to committee members went to the majority Democrats and just 39 percent went to Republicans.

Then there's the focus on relevant committee members with oversight for healthcare. These received the lion's share of the money. Senator Max Baucus of Montana received the most money from the health care industry of any member on his Senate Finance committee in 2008, $1.2 million. Now take Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah who sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on the Finance Committee, and on the Finance Health Subcommittee, where he is the ranking minority member. His take this decade is $5.5 million from various healthcare lobbyists.

The key point is that lobbyists aim to influence the people who have the power. In a Senate that over-represents rural, under-populated states that largely tend conservative then it is not surprising that those who most lobbied are Senators like Max Baucus, Orrin Hatch, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson. And there's the additional bonus that a little goes a longer way given the media markets in which they have to compete.

The answer should be clear. We need campaign finance reform including public financing of Congressional campaigns. Without it, you can change the entire membership of the Senate and you would get the same legislative output that is largely dictated by the interests of corporations and does reflect not the overriding national interest. The Senate is broken. Fixing it is of the utmost urgency.

Tags: campaign finance reform, Governance Issues, lobbying, money in politics, Senator Max Baucus, US Healthcare Reform, US History, US Senate (all tags)



dole was a majority leader...

not sure why you think he was simply a minority leader...

by bored now 2009-12-21 03:21AM | 0 recs
Re: dole was a majority leader...

Twice in fact. That's what I get for doing this from memory. Thanks I'll fix it. I always appreciate the fact-checking.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-21 03:41AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

The problem isn't with the senate, the problem is picking better leaders.  It was a mistake for the Dems to not have a primary when they picked the last majority leader.  The House did eventhough Pelosi lost.

The problem isn't with the Senate, the problem is the senority system in the Senate.  We need to end the senority system with party leaders like the Majority and Minority leaders and have an open process.

by olawakandi 2009-12-21 03:31AM | 0 recs
sorry, but i disagree...

i was thinking about this over the weekend.  i can't think of anyone on the democratic side that would be a better majority leader, who could take up the mantle of a mitchell or dole (both widely acknowledged as effective and responsive majority leaders during their time).

nor will you find the seniority system a party to how majority leaders are chosen.  if that was the case, byrd would have been the majority leader, and ted kennedy would have had a shot at being so (strom thurmond on the republican side is also evidence refuting this thought).  contests for leadership are rather open already.  perhaps if you learned how congress chose their leadership, you might feel differently...

by bored now 2009-12-21 05:25AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

"We need campaign finance reform including public financing of Congressional campaigns. Without it, you can change the entire member of the Senate and you would get the same legislative output that is largely dictated by the interests of corporations and does reflect not the overriding national interest. The Senate is broken. Fixing it is of the utmost urgency."

Campaign finance is the defining issue of our times.  Certainly in the Senate, but quite honestly in the House as well from the Blue Dogs to the CBC to the Progressive Block. Nothing will change in DC until this issue is resolved.

by bruh3 2009-12-21 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

Yup. You and I disagree on much but I think we both concur that this is the root of the problem.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-21 04:11AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

Do you see either party really addressing the issue? It strikes me through partisanship and personality politics that they plan to avoid the issue indefinitely.

by bruh3 2009-12-21 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

Don't forget potential  consitutionality issues.

by FUJA 2009-12-21 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

No, actually, the Senate worked as designed. I understand you hate the design, except when the design saves you from Republican over-reaching. The design trade-off is that Democrats have to overcome the same hurdles. Democrats are at a disadvantage, though. But that isn't a flaw in the design, or even a flaw of Democrats.

It's complicated. Your pony is coming... it just isn't the prettiest pony ever.

by QTG 2009-12-21 04:42AM | 0 recs
HR because...?

Dear bruh3, how is this comment beyond the pale?

by TexasDarling 2009-12-21 04:53AM | 0 recs
Re: HR because...?

 Lashing out in frustration, perhaps? Rules mean nothing, not in the Senate nor here. Rules constitute a frame, and frames are stupid.

by QTG 2009-12-21 05:03AM | 0 recs
Re: HR because...?

Maybe bruh is just trying to provoke a downrate war with me. I decline the invitation.

by QTG 2009-12-21 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: HR because...?

And then you TR me calling you out because...?  GMAFB.

by TexasDarling 2009-12-21 05:10AM | 0 recs
At the risk of perpetuating a

ratings war and getting banned from here:

I troll rated you (and the others) simply because I disagree with you all.

"Wait. That's against the rules." Well yes, I am well aware, so consider this to be civil disobedience on my part.

The rating system is inadequate. People give 2-mojo's all the time simply for "agreement". There should be a rating for simple "disagreement" or folks should get called out for simply agreeing when 2's should be saved for "awesome agreement.". So there's that inconsistency.

But even greater a problem for me it the fluff comments expressing disagreement with the diary; comments without weight or thought (yes my pov) that for me represent noise in the signal.

But hey, I'm just a regular user here so really my 1's have no real effect except to anger some who have thin skins.

Maybe you would feel better if it said 1-disagree or 1-NegativeMojo or something without the word troll?

by Jeff Wegerson 2009-12-21 07:58AM | 0 recs
Fair enough

FWIW, I also think 0/1/2 being hide/disagree/agree would be a better system, and don't really care when someone goes around handing out 1s.  But 0-rating something actually hides it from many users, and that's what good old bruh3 did in this case.

by TexasDarling 2009-12-21 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: At the risk of perpetuating a

Then why not rate at all.    That's actually NOT what the ratings on here are for.      Be careful... excessively doing that will get your ratings ability suspended.

by FUJA 2009-12-21 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

I think it is obvious that the structure of the Senate favors Republican interests rather than Democratic ones.  It wasn't just a coincidence, for example, that the Republicans voted unanimously against filibuster reform when they were in the majority.  They know how important these various devices are to blocking real change in this country.

Having said that, people should think long and hard about what things would have been like from 2001-2006 if the Senate were a majoritarian institution that just rubberstamped everything that came out of Tom DeLay's House.  I could write a long, long diary about all the pernicious stuff that passed the House in those years only to die on the vine in the Senate.  This point shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

by Steve M 2009-12-21 07:36AM | 0 recs
Dems did not stop all that much

by bay of arizona 2009-12-21 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Dems did not stop all that much

This is just factually untrue.  The House passed dozens upon dozens of crazy wingnut bills that went absolutely nowhere in the Senate.

by Steve M 2009-12-21 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

Nor do I share Krugman's sentiments. The belief here is that the Democrats are going push further in the future for single payer or Medicare for All, or some such socialized or government controlled medical care system, which will sideline the corportism and profiteering of the past. Hardly. The Republicans will be back in full force shortly, closing the window to any further advances.

What we have now is a Republican Lite version of medical care in which the corporations still play a defining role, and which will likely take the country into greater debt. Before long, interest on the debt will be half of the yearly federal budget. Try passing a tax to pay the bills.

Why would anyone praise this development?

by MainStreet 2009-12-21 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

I first started following politics in the late 1990s.  I can remember time after time thinking that the Senate saved the country from Republican over-reach precisely over these sorts of procedural hurdles.  This mechanism worked greatly to our advantage during the Bush years too - although our overall strategy left something to be desired.  The fact is, the Senate is a conservative institution in the sense that it moves slowly, avoids quick decisions, and reflects really the slowest parts of movement.  The Republicans have been better at circumventing parts of this reality, but I would argue that this goes along more fully with their governing philosophy and has also contributed to their current torpor.

by the mollusk 2009-12-21 05:57AM | 0 recs
The Quotable Charles Lemos

The Senate is an institution that no longer works for the American people, one that produces flawed legislation no matter which party is in control and an institution that does not serve the national interest but instead caters to those who have paid for access.


by Trey Rentz 2009-12-21 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate
The Senate is an outgrowth of the composition of the USA in 1780 when many of the founding fathers were from rural southern states. They wanted to maintain some control of the process of government. This was written into the Constitution to do that.
The Senate is a vestage of that era when a message sent from New York to Richmond took 3 to 5 days by horseback.
It's basically very undemocratic to have such a system in this day of instant messaging, facebook, internet, Google, etc.
But I think we are stuck with it....
by hddun2008 2009-12-21 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

I think that's why at the end Charles points out the need for campaign finance reform because the structural issues will not change anytime soon.

by bruh3 2009-12-21 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

Yes but we no longer live in 1787. The country is much more democratic and the Senate really is anti-democratic institution.

In 1787, the gap between the largest and smallest state was 11.8 times, now it's over 70x. And the gap is growing.

I didn't include it in the body because I couldn't find a place where it fits but with every decennial census, the percentage of the bottom 26 least populous declines. Since 1960, when we first had 50 states, we have a decline of some 60 basis points. We have gone from 18.4 percent to 17.8 percent.

The other point I'll make is that the country is increasingly ungovernable and while there are a number of reasons for this development, institutionally-speaking the problem is the Senate. Even a number of Senators admit it. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, a freshman, just this week called the Senate "dysfunctional."

And the chorus of those who see this range from political scientists to historians to economists to journalists to politicians (Steny Hoyer for instance) to political pundits. I think some of my observations are additive to the critique.

States fail for many reasons and the US is increasingly falling behind on many socio-economic metrics. Take high school graduation rates, we were first in the 1950s, now we're 18th. Life expectancy top ten in the 1960s, now somewhere in the top 25. These are the warning signs. They point to something being amiss. Others doing things better so you look at why. You look at institutional frameworks and culture and we've got big problems. Culturally no country is a cleft in the OECD with the exception of perhaps Mexico and Turkey but our institutions, the Senate primarily, rewards the more regressive forces in the country and gives them more power. Over time, that leads to poor policy making and thus you get the decline in socio-economic metrics that reflect living standards.

European societies are now less aristocratic than ours. That's something the Founders would be shocked at except for perhaps Hamilton who might have welcomed it. Still he would appalled at the size of the debt.

I enjoy comparative politics. I look at Thailand and they confront the same issues. Their parliament favors rural interests over Bangkok. And Thailand is now ungovernable. It lurches from crisis to crisis.

Obviously we are a more developed country but the takeaways are the same. We are not addressing fundamental problems because an entrenched rural-based minority can effectively derail serious reform and given the pernicious role of money in politics special interests have come to develop a lock on policy-making. James Galbraith's The Predator States is but one book that I think aptly describes the situation we are against.

From my own personal point of view, I want to emigrate. I want to leave. I have little interest in going back to Colombia for a variety of reasons but I came very close to taking a job in Saudi Arabia in August, that's how desperate I am.  I sense the writing is on the wall. It's reform or die.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-21 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

"States fail for many reasons and the US is increasingly falling behind on many socio-economic metrics. "

The problem your argument faces is not that it is wrong. The problem you face is that people are denial. They want to bury their heads in the sand, and until they decide to stop doing this- how does one create any change at all?

by bruh3 2009-12-21 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

There is that. Too few Americans travel abroad so many don't see how other parts of the world live. Among the large lower middle classes, many can't even afford to take a vacation. The belief that the country is exceptional is pervasive. Well every country is "unique" and while the US was once exceptional we now lead the world in very few categories. Still the largest economy with China number two as of this year catching and just passing Japan. Our most noteworthy stat, we account for almost half of all military spending worldwide and this, of course, a factor in our declining living standards equation.

I was so amused by the Palin, Mr. & Mrs., wearing those t-shirts in Hawaii: "America: If You Don't Love, Then Why Don't You Leave." Typical white trash propaganda. The visor was the story that made waves but the real story was her t-shirt. She actually thinks that she knows it all because she has "commonsense conservatism." The anti-intectuallism is one thing but the lack of curiosity is appalling. The best quality about my life is that every day I learn something new. And the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know.  

The US is still a very innovative society but our universities are under pressure. And since the cost of a college degree and post-graduate education is so expensive, we are seeing a decline in hard sciences, engineering, liberal arts and an uptick in professions that remunerate well such as law and business. My own life is a case in point, I trained as a historian but felt compelled to get an MBA to pay for it.

The Hayek & Friedman crowd talk about unlimited personal freedom. They really have it backwards. The economic pressures I faced limited my freedom, not enhanced it. Making money is not always a liberating experience. I understand that it is for some but not everyone wants to be a millionaire.

In thinking about where we are, I still think that we are still headed in the wrong direction. Obama has made a number of important policy reversals and the Democrats have passed much need legislation but have we tackled the underlying causes of our malaise. I don't think we have. I'm hoping that it is a "not yet story" but there's also this sense that our governing elites still believe in a system that aggrandizes financial assets instead of investing in productive capacity. Some of the measures, such as this HCR, seem more like half measures than real reform. At the end of the day, this bill enhances corporate power and does not seek to curb and excessive corporate power is one of our key problems.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-21 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

Well, I like the notion.  I like Harkin's filibuster bill, I like changing the body makeup of the senate and I like FInance reform.

The questions is HOW?

To change the Senate Body Make up would require amendment.  Where it is completely population based or 100-200 new Senators are divided among the biggest states with the original 100 two per senate or something else, it requires a large large vote FROM the senate to get on the ballot.  I just don't see how that will be possible... No way the small states give up their power.

Finance reform is great but owuld have to come after the filibuster for obvious reasons.  Worse though, if the SCOTUS decides to shoot down finance reform, then it would require an amendment and we run into the same issue.

Filibuster needs to be addressed by the first day of the 2010 session.  Go with Harkins bill

by FUJA 2009-12-21 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: A Broken United States Senate

Ok lets look at this... Campaign financing has numerous precedents defining it as free speech.  Its stupid, but its legal precedent.  When the Scotus further over rules McCain/Feingold, its gonna be worse.   We NEED a constitutional Amendment for it.   Hands down, that may be the hardest.

As for more Senators, I see it as an eventual compromise... one it lessons the impact of a single senator and two you can allocate part of the Senators by the 2 per state and the rest by population.   Again though, the chances of any amendment radically changing a body that has been in existence for over two hundred years with only one significant change (the direct election of Senators vs appointment) is slim to none.

No for Filibuster... If you wanted to try to pull a procedural motion such as the Nuclear option, yes you could do it NOW and it would only take a majority rule.  However, I don't think its smart politics ad I think the Dem Senators are two big of pussies to try it.  It will be a dominating theme of 2010 heading into elections...   Big Bully Dems took away our right to be a minority party and want to force Death panels and atheism and abortions and socialism on you...  Its doable, but just like reconciliation, its not going to happen.  The Dems don't have the balls to do it, especially in an election year.  This will be a very mundane year for bills once HCR passes.      

We could try passing a bill, but I doubt it will pass.  I believe for a mid term rule change like that you need 67 votes to pass, but I may be wrong.   I don't see any GOPer supporting it now nor Nelson or Joementum, as it destroys their power.

The best time to change is when the new rules are adopted and a majority vote is needed.   You then have two years to weather any potential blow back and you did it without resorting to palimentary tricks.  So I they do it, they wait until 2011.

by FUJA 2009-12-21 05:17PM | 0 recs


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