Since When is 60% the New Magic Number for Legislation?

2009 October 6

by Sebastian Melmouth

Why do we need 60 votes to pass the public option?
I thought I knew a lot about how sausage is made, but I am really confused on why we need 60 votes in the Senate on Healthcare. I realize that the Senate needs 60 votes to overcome the filibuster, but why wouldn’t the centrist Dems vote for Cloture and then vote against the bill and let it pass 51-49 or 52-48 (or 50-50+VP)?
Even if the bill contains a strong public option, couldn’t Baucus (D-Phrma), Conrad (D-Lewin), et. al. have their cake and eat it too?
Sure, their big $ backers wouldn’t be happy, but their red state constituents might be appeased — In short, ” I voted against this boondoggle.” Will opposition ads in Nebraska actually be able to make hay of thefact that Sen. Nelson voted for cloture?

Poll after poll shows that a large majority of the public is in favor of the public option. Polls are now showing that more Republicans are FOR the public option than are AGAINST it.
In short, what is the reason for this particular filibuster threat?
Why aren’t we demanding an “up-or-down” vote where all 60 Dems (and Sen. Snowe) could vote for cloture and then  let majority rule? Why have we ceded the fact that we can only pass a bill that musters 60 votes in favor?

3 Responses leave one →
  1. October 6, 2009

    Because they want it to appear fair to stifle the seeds of revolt growing in the West and rural America. Even the Good Witch of the North, Olympia Snowe knows that.

    Probably take it through in reconciliation anyway. There’s also a growing recognition that it’s a really bad piece of legislation, I think, and that the One fucked up bigtime by not having Cass Sunstein (detest him though I do) head up a team of libertarians and nonvested sick-care experts and say, “OK. Come up with the least shitty thing you can, recognizing that government entry is going to fuck things up. At least we can maybe clear away the previous sixty years of fucking up and make a better playing field since what we’ve got now doesn’t work. You have six months.” Instead, he had the dumbest, smarmiest people in the world, the US Congress write it.

    Get this into your heads: When Congress writes a bill, they are humans writing a bill, and they reward the people who put them in power or can hire them for consulting gigs after. This is how the plutocracy is cemented. This is how the system works.

  2. October 7, 2009

    It does not need to be 60 votes…according to Rachael Maddow tonight there is pressure from the left to get Harry Reid to strip away chairmanships from any Democrat that sides with Republicans on a filibuster…they will be allowed to vote for or against when the bill gets to the floor for a regular, 51 majority vote process but they will be strongly penalized for allowing a filibuster to take place.

    Looks like the ghosts of Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson and Dan Moynihan have actually infected some of today’s Democratic leadership with some balls. I just hope it is not too little, too late.

  3. Mike permalink
    October 16, 2009

    If there is going to be a fillibuster on the healthcare bill(s) in the Senate, why aren’t the Democrats forcing the Republicans to actually fillibuster? I mean, Mr. Smith Goes… type fillibuster, you know, the kind that are the reason that the fillibuster is cool? Get the cots down to the cloak room, break out the phone book (stupid 411), and make them keep the floor, make them keep talking!

    If the Republicans want the battle ribbon for fillibustering the healthcare bill, make them fight the battle, not just say, “BASE! WE’RE FILLIBUSTERING, you need 60 votes!” FORCE THEM TO ACTUALLY FILLIBUSTER!

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