More precisely, the 60 vote requirement is because the stimulus was outside the bounds of the congressionally passed budget for FY 2009 (the last budget to have passed). Deficit spending is incorporated into the budget, but exceeding the deficit provided for in the budget requires 60 votes under the Budget Act.
Steve -- The senate rules don't work like that. Unlike the House, where all the members are reelected at the beginning of each congress, the senate is a "continuing body," since 2/3rds of its members are carried over from the previous congress. So the rules (and particularly Rule XXII that provides for cloture) have not changed in many years. In fact, changing the senate standing rules is extremely difficult through the regular mechanism -- though the vote on the actual rule is a simple majority, the cloture vote on rules would have been 66 (2/3rds).
When Frist was majority leader, he discussed using the "nuclear option" with regard to judicial appointments -- he would make a point of order that judicial appointments alone were not subject to being filibustered, have the President of the Senate (Cheney) sustain his point of order, and then vote down (by majority vote) any challenge to the point of order. The gang of 14 killed that idea though they ended up allowing the Republicans to push through 2 right wing supreme court justices when the Senate was barely in the R column. . .
The bottom line, though, is that though many experts on Senate rules have suggested mechanisms to move the senate toward majority rule, all have failed, because the options to change the rules either require a larger majority than that needed to overcome a filibuster on legislation, or because the "nuclear option" would take from the centerists on both sides the source of their power.
Very good ad. Taking Bachmann out would send a powerful message to the right wingers in congress. Stuart Rothenberg says that in "wave" elections like we're seeing form right now, all the close elections fall in the same direction. Bachmann just made her reelection a close one with her disastrous Chris Matthews interview . . . and she'll pay the price.
It's so great that Democrats have come together -- the whole Hillary-Obama division is ancient history, a stake named Palin driven through its heart -- with a clear purpose of changing this nation, not just over the next 4 years, but over the next 40.
Now is the time. Reallignment is a word we're going to be hearing a lot between now and January. . . IF we do our part over the next 13 days.
Yes, but McCain was the member on the majority side pushing the bill. It wasn't like there were other Senators who really were vying for leadership on the campaign finance issue back when McCain-Feingold started in '95. Virtually every major bill is the product of a committee process lead by the committee chair.
John Kerry nearly won the presidency. Hillary Clinton came in second for the nomination. Senate rules of seniority don't give credit for running for president, and other Senators aren't easily impressed by presidential runs. Kerry doesn't get any credit for his presidential run and I doubt Clinton will, either.
Unless there is some way around the seniority system in the Senate, she's unlikely to become even a subcommittee chair. And undoubtedly, something like a national health program would be dealt with at the full committee level, lead by the committee chair, if for no other reason that only a committee chair has the staff resources to write the bill.
None of this is to in any way denigrate Clinton or her commitment to health care, by the way -- but it's just unrealistic to think that in a body like the Senate, the committee chair would defer to anyone else to write a bill of this importance.
I realize Hillary Clinton has been involved in healthcare issues for quite some time, but why would the seven Democrats more senior than her on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee let her author the most important bill to come before the committee since Medicaid? Kennedy, Dodd, Harkin, Mikulski, Bingaman, Murray and Reed all outrank her. Hopefully Kennedy will author it himself. Kennedy was a Senator and fighting for healthcare for Americans when Hillary was president of the Wellesley Young Republicans. Dodd and Harkin both have over 30 years in Congress, and were both on the committee when Clinton's first plan was considered and failed. Undoubtedly, Clinton will be a key senator in this fight, but it's unlikely that Senators will step out of her way to allow her to get the acclaim for finally providing universal healthcare.
Bear in mind that in gerrymandering safe Democratic districts with strong urban cores of democrats, Republicans often receive stronger districts as well. This is likely to be an election year when a lot of dems outperform previous cycles, but in some cases we'll lose districts because they're overwhelmingly rural and republican, while Democrats in neighboring districts enjoy easy races because the line was drawn to make them both safe seats.
In my district, for years we suffered with Republican enabler Connie Morella, largely because Al Wynn in the next district East insisted on having his district cover a big chunk of liberal southeast Montgomery County, so he could post 70-30 wins in the general without doing much beyond a district wide postcard mailer 6 weeks out. When he finally relented and gave up a few democratic zipcodes in Montgomery county, Chris Van Hollen was able to finally beat Morella who had defeated two great Democrats in Ralph Neas and Terry Lierman in the two previous elections.
What will make this interesting is whether McCain will get into the upper 40's. If he's hitting a ceiling at 46 or so, even if Obama slips below him in one of the tracking polls, I think it's very telling. Not over, but Barack and Joe's to lose. If he gets into the upper 40's then I think it's competetive, but I think our ground game is very strong and will make a mockery of the lv screens in polls.
Palin is generating a bounce, but with her limited access and strict scripting I think it will dissipate before the debates.
Obama fell right into McCain's trap. McCain told the American people that Obama's eloquence, as opposed to McCain's woodenness, was a sure sign that he was not qualified for the presidency. Then Obama gave an acceptance speech that 35% considered "Excellent." I'm not sure how Obama can come back from that last night of the convention.
Actually, it's Clinton who is shooting herself in the foot (or as they say in the Olympics, committing unforced errors.)
I don't know how she can have worked harder than any other surrogate to help Obama win -- Kennedy was working pretty hard before his illness, Senator Durbin and a number of others have been with him from the start. She actually, as I recall, worked harder than any other Democrat to prevent Obama from winning by continuing to pursue the nomination long after there was any realistic hope of winning the nomination.
And through her own surrogates she continues to undermine the party and its nominee. Carville is talking about her getting "respect" by being vetted for the VP slot. But what would have been the point? The extensive collection of video on Clinton trashing Obama over and over would be a dream for McCain's opposition research team, who could churn out a new ad of the VP nominee attacking the presidential nominee every week between now and the election.
She had a choice in March between continuing an already-failed campaign, or dropping out, getting behind Obama, and positioning herself as a possible VP. I really think she would have been a good choice if she had done what many commentators said she should do.
Instead, she amassed an incredible debt that she is struggling to pay off, and dealt serious damage to both her own reputation and to the party's nominee. She lost. Move on. Get over it.
The Senate has only about 5 weeks in session left this year. I'm not sure it's worth taking action right now on this -- Why give the R's the opportunity to claim that Reid acted vindictively to distract people from their own ineffectiveness and pettiness? I believe that changing the committee chairs would require a senate resolution, which would be subject to filibuster -- in other words, it would fail.
But he will undoubtedly pay the price after November and he knows it. What will be interesting is whether the R's will allow him in their caucus in January or if he's going to be truly independent.
No. The conventional wisdom is that Obama isn't picking someone until the convention. Clinton won't do a lot for Obama at this point, mainly because he's doing a pretty good job of unifying the party without her.
I think what he needs to do is assess where the point of attacks are coming from, but there is little evidence that McCain is going to make any inroads on women voters or on hispanic voters on Obama. The biggest deficit that is being identified is experience, and there are a host of possible candidates whose longer foreign policy experience would help there far more than Hillary Clinton's 8 years as a Senator. Biden, Richardson, and several others could fill the bill with foreign policy experience.