The Biden Administration - the first 1,500 days [NOT an Afghanistan discussion]

Reconciliation cannot be filibustered. The debt ceiling can be raised through reconciliation (which is terrible precedent and has timing issues) or through regular legislation. Republicans have already filibustered the later option, but Schumer has said he’ll bring it up for a vote again this week.

Terrible precedent? I believe raising the debt ceiling through reconciliation is one of the express purposes of that procedure.

~Max

I feel like I’ve had my say above. It is an allowable use of reconciliation, but the precedent for decades has been to raise the debt limit through regular order on a bipartisan basis.

Oh wow, not sure if this is what Asahi was referencing but Biden said filibuster reform was possible over this, and it’s sounds like it would be universally changing to something like a talking filibuster for everything, not just an exception for the debt ceiling.

Does the concept of “bipartisan” exist any more?

I do so admire your ability to blame the Democrats even when the Republicans are being blatantly dishonest and hypocritical.

The “Democrats are in favor of profligate overspending and big government while Republicans are the fiscally prudent and small government party” narrative is certainly a staple of right-wing ideology. Unfortunately it’s completely at odds with reality, albeit it’s a narrative Republicans tell themselves as well as others.

If you look over the last half-century of administrations it’s the Republican ones that demonstrate massive deficit increases and bigger governments, and the Democratic ones that have made serious efforts to reign in government spending. When there’s a Democrat in the White House the GOP scream about overspending even as the deficits fall (even when the GOP are granted ever more tax cuts for the wealthy, which in itself isn’t very fiscally responsible). When there’s a Republican president, it’s all “deficits don’t matter” and “It doesn’t matter because I won’t be in office when the bill comes due” and the entire party is fine with that - just as McConnell was perfectly fine raising the debt ceiling during the Trump years. Because the modern Republican Party is dishonest and hypocritical.

Basically the Democrats increase deficits by more money on domestic programs and Republicans increase deficits by more money on defense and tax cuts (overwhelmingly for the rich).

Except both Clinton and Obama reduced the deficit.

I believe all that is necessary for the return of the talking filibuster is for Leader Schumer to keep the issue on the floor rather than swiveling to a second track. I don’t think there is a rule as such that gives a silent filibuster any weight, it’s just the majority leader not wanting to waste time.

ETA: There are holds but that is just an informal promise to give notice to someone before the issue will be brought to the floor (so they have a chance to object). Modern practice is that the majority leader won’t even bother bringing a vote if there is a hold - but the hold itself is a promise to notify, not a veto power.

I personally think this is a great time for the majority leader to exercise his discretion. Even Biden and Manchin have expressed support for a return to the talking filibuster.

~Max

That has long been my opinion. You wanna filibuster? Fine - but you have to actually, y’know, filibuster. Put your mouth where your obstructionism is.

Not exactly, I believe. Right now, for any legislation before the Senate, the Majority Leader will call for a cloture vote. McConnell (or a surrogate), notifies the Majority Leader of their intent to filibuster, and now the threshold for cloture is 60 votes. Schumer can’t insist on a talking filibuster, because the current Senate rules don’t require it. Switching to a talking filibuster would require a change to the Senate rules (50 vote threshold here).

He doesn’t have to. The cloture motion is entirely optional. Cloture is not procedurally necessary to pass a bill.

All cloture does is put time limits on debate. Without those limits, the opposition may use their privilege of unlimited debate time to hold up the Senate. Exercising that privilege is called a filibuster; merely threatening it, but not having to exercise it because the Majority & Minority Leaders agree it would be a waste of precious time to have someone do a talking filibuster, is a silent filibuster. The Majority Leader is well within his rights to say, this debt bill is so important we’re not going to go into default just because you threaten to filibuster this bill.

The threshold for cloture, on regular legislation, is always three fifths of the whole Senate. When Republicans give notice of their intent to filibuster, that is known as a hold and it is just an informal promise that the Majority leader won’t bring the bill to the floor without notifying them first. That way the objecting member isn’t caught out of town or something, unable to voice his objections / stage a filibuster.

~Max

I think the Dems may be onto something – keep the nuclear option open for the debt ceiling, but keep putting it out there and keep forcing Republican senators to keep voting against raising it. Put their asses right in that spotlight, which is only going to get brighter and more intense.

It’s a gamble, but then again, so is trying to work it through using reconciliation, which could be time consuming, the danger being that they don’t work out all the particulars in time and we end up with a default that gets blamed on the Dems for not getting this done sooner. Instead, they’re going to push for a straight-up stand-alone vote, and force Repubs to keep rejecting it. They keep the nuclear option in their back pocket. They make the Republicans look like irresponsible, hypocritical shits – well, to those who are paying attention anyway. And in the end, they keep reconciliation clean and open for their renegotiated stimulus proposal

It also puts pressure on their turncoats, I mean centrists, Manchin and Sinema. They say that they support the filibuster, but they’ll be blamed for a default and Schumer and Biden know it.

All of this is largely true, and the cloture vote is optional. But, as you say, that just means that debate might never end. Typically, the Majority Leader will bring a motion to proceed, and then, interrupting himself (a weirdly necessary step to move for cloture), file a cloture motion. He would then withdraw the motion to proceed but leave the cloture motion, and this trick allows the Senate to proceed with regular business while waiting for the cloture vote.

Is this the step that you are referring to? That Schumer would refuse to withdraw the motion to proceed thus forcing the Senate to deal with the debt ceiling legislation before they can move on to other business? I have a feeling that McConnell would be just fine with that.

A threat to filibuster is all that appears to be required to hold up legislation; there is no provision to require anyone to hold the floor. Schumer can schedule the cloture vote, but he still needs the 3/5ths, whether anyone is talking or not. A vote on cloture is specified in the Senate rules to occur one hour after it convenes on the second day after the cloture motion is filed. Schumer doesn’t have any discretion here unless he can obtain unanimous consent to delay the vote.

I guess I’m confused on what discretion the Majority Leader has here. I guess he can force the Senate to stay in session for the 30 hour debate/amendment limit, but I’m not seeing how that would change anything.

What am I missing?

Only, I repeat only, if someone actually stages a talking filibuster.

Hence, as I said, the majority leader can unilaterally bring back the talking filibuster.

~Max

Yeah, but…

What happens if no cloture motion is filed, but no Senator is holding the floor? Other business cannot happen while the motion to proceed is active, but there is no requirement that someone hold the floor. Theoretically, the Senate would stop dead until the cloture motion is voted on. The non-talking “debate” could continue until end of the current session of the Senate.

These days, the announcement of the intent to filibuster has no practical distinction from actually filibustering.

To be fair, what really reduces the deficit is having a Democratic president and a Republican legislature.

Democrats are generally consistently tax and spend. The Republicans support spending and more importantly tax cuts when they are in charge, but pretend to be fiscally responsible when the negative effects of austerity can be blamed on a Democratic administration.

So:
if Democrats control both congress and the white house, we have tax and spend.
if Republicans control both congress and the white house, we have tax cuts and spend.
If Democrats control congress and Republicans control the white house we have increased spending but taxes remain unchanged.
If Democrats control the whitehouse and Republicans control congress, spending gets blocked and taxes remain the same.

The presiding officer would proceed and call for a vote on the motion (to proceed). And the Democrats have 50 votes.

~Max

But the bill is being “filibustered”, so cloture must be filed first. Just because no one is holding the floor doesn’t mean it isn’t being filibustered these days. There is no requirement to hold the floor during a filibuster. I don’t believe Schumer has the authority to change that by fiat.

What exactly prohibits the presiding officer from calling a vote, if nobody holds the floor or seeks recognition?

~Max