IOW, the “right of unlimited debate” is there simply because it always has been there. And, for the most part, it has not been used for the sake of making sure every proposal gets fully and thoroughly discussed and examined from all points of view before a decision gets made, but, rather, to allow dissenters to block legislation from ever getting to a floor vote. With the three-fifths cloture rule, it’s not so bad as it was in the days when a single senator could do that. Still, what is the good of allowing a minority of one house to exercise a de facto veto power over getting anything done?! And, nowadays, why should the Senate’s rules on this be any different from the House’s?
Well, at its best, the fillibuster rule acts a powerful protection for minority interests - that can be worth doing, if only to ensure the majority doesn’t ride roughshod over dissent. (We have judicial review of Congressional action for the same reason.) As for why the Senate should have it, rather than the House - well, the Senate has always been the legislative organ that provides greater protection to minority rights. The whole reason that each state enjoys equal representation within that chamber is that smaller states feared that their populations, as tiny minorities of the nation as a whole, would be powerless in national affairs.
That’s probably about as good an argument as you’ll find, anyway. I’m not sure it’s a convincing one, though.
Is that right? I always understood it originated because the United States were a loose collection of states, each of which should have an equal say. That is, the federal government was seen to be populated by states as much as by people, if not more so, and every member of this federation should have an equal voice. Similarly the Electoral College elects federal officials on a state by state basis, usually with unanimous participation of each state.
I say “the United States were…” because that was the typical grammatical use of the term “United States” before the Civil War.
The Republicans use filibustering much more than Democrats, and they have created a new practical standard of 60% to carry any nonreconciliation vote. So, the Dems may well be wise to repeal the Senate rule allowing filibustering. It’s scary, but I’m tempted…
Your interesting fillibuster factoid of the day: the combined populations of the 21 least populous states is only 10% of the total US population. Combined with 60 seats needed to break a filibuster, this means that senators representing only 10% of the US population can block the will of those representing the other 90%.
So the filibuster doesn’t only protect the will of the minority, it protects the will of a really small minority.
They’d be batshit insane to do that. Reason being that no party is going to be in the majority forever. Sooner or later the other side will have the upper hand, and then they’ll want to filibuster option for themselves.
Also, if they can’t muster the votes to break a filibuster, the bill is probably a bad idea anyway.
I do think that there is no good reason the House rules should be any different than the Senate. And, yes, the fillibuster’s de facto purpose has been one of stymieing legislation, rather than allowing for extensive debate.
But we have reconciliation to deal with it. As long as we get rid of the procedural fillibuster, and start forcing conservatives to actually speak out–preferably delineating their reasons for doing so–I don’t see a problem. However, I don’t see anything wrong with jettisoning it either.
Especially, since the two parties have not used the fillibuster with equal frequency, and, when the Dems did it against Bush’s tax cuts, the right-wing raised such a ruckus about the “nuclear option” (getting rid of the fillibuster) that one would think the kittens were being sacrificed to chronic masturbators.
Remove the filibuster option, and the other side is free to ramrod their agenda through the Senate. You think you like that idea while your guys are in power. You won’t like it one little bit when the other side is the majority.
Beyond that, the Senate is the “upper” house. They are supposed to be more deliberate in their considerations, to temper the young upstarts in the House, for the good of the country. Things done in haste generally suck, regardless of who does it. If it was up to me, I’d require a supermajority on both sides of the hill to pass anything. If an idea is not good enough to draw widespread support from both parties, it should not become law.
That is unfortunate. So is the existence of “Politician” as a career field. Once elected, the primary concern is to be re-elected at any cost. We could fix that with term limits, but it would probably take a constitutional amendment to make them survive legal challenges.
Given the option of “politician” being a temporary job taken to set up one’s post-public service career, or “politician” being a profession, I’d take the latter. Term limits would make the greedy and power-hungry seek office, whereas now the field is mostly limited to only the power-hungry.
Then they would likely just angle to suck up even more to big business to guarantee them a cush job once they were out.
I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again. We already know what a decent filibuster process looks like…back when it was a relatively rare thing. The problem is not the filibuster per se but that it is just far too easy to pull off nowadays. I can understand why they did it…going through a filibuster sucks for both sides and they have cocktail parties to get to and donors to schmooze.
But of course the sucking part is kind of the point. It should suck as it is an extreme move.
So, bring it back that they have to (not a choice) stand up there and read the DC phone book for hours on end. Have it that a quorum must be maintained throughout. Have it that all other Senate business is on hold till the filibuster is resolved one way or another.
If a side thinks an issue is really, really, really important then they may opt for this but they will not do so lightly and pressure will mount over time till some resolution is found.
God forbid these guys actually work for their paycheck.
At the very list, they should require the dissenting minority to actually filibuster – not just threaten to. Make them get up there and talk for three days over a holiday weekend or something. Don’t make it so easy to stop a vote just by pointing out you have 41 votes.
In theory the President Pro Tempore (I think it is that person which is usually the highest ranking member of the party in the majority) could tell the republicans, today, to get up there and start talking in old fillibuster type fashion. If not him then maybe the majority leader…not sure.
I think they do not do that since it would incense the Reps and they, in turn, would do the same back to Dems someday as payback. No one wants to stand there for hours on end so no one bothers to make it happen.