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Nov 21 2013

Reid pulls the nuclear trigger

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If only the Senate Majority Leader had done this awhile back, it might have made a real difference. It’s still good, we’ll get some sane judges seated, but it’s beyond high time:

WaPo — The partisan battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years took a historic turn Thursday, as Senate Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations, severely curtailing the political leverage of the Republican minority in the Senate and assuring an escalation of partisan warfare. The rule change means that federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been required for more than two centuries.

There’s often a meme out there that dems are wimps. Whereas republicans stand for their values. It’s not as true as some might think, you can find plenty of cases of people within the GOP caving on important stuff. But by and large, conservatives have two things working for them that dems don’t enjoy in the same portions. One, they’re less rational, which means they tend to believe their own bullshit, which means they end up taking greater risks because they’re less aware that it is a real risk. And two, they have a much better after office career ladder. The result of billions of dollars of wingnut welfare over many decades.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    The other thing about R is that they push every single ridiculous thing they can think of. They act all crazy when not every bit of their scattershot approach works, but overall it is effective.

  2. 2
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    There’s a third reason, as well: an attempt to understand other viewpoints is an intrinsic part of the liberal mindset, whereas selfishness and myopia are very much a part of the conservative ideology. So liberals tend to be less certain their position is necessarily the best one. Conservatives think their position is the only one.

    Yes, I’m painting with a very broad brush here, but this certainly seems borne out by the causes championed by either side.

  3. 3
    doublereed

    And of course, they resort of conspiracy theories almost immediately if something does not go their way.

  4. 4
    doublereed

    Wait hold on, I’m actually shocked by this. Reid actually did it? Wow. Color me impressed.

  5. 5
    AsqJames

    Hang on, is this accurate:

    The rule change means that federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been required for more than two centuries.

    Being English I’ve probably got this wrong, but it was my impression that only a simple majority vote was required prior to this change. I thought the problem was that a minority was using the filibuster rules to block the nominations from coming to any actual vote. Is this wrong?

    Also: In the entire history of the executive appointments, 168 Presidential nominees have been filibustered and blocked. Of which 82 were nominated by Obama in the last 5 years. The other 43 presidents in 200+ years only had 86 between them, and yet it’s Harry Reid and the Dems who are “assuring an escalation of partisan warfare”?!?!

  6. 6
    AsqJames

    Right, just checked and yep…

    For appointments, a majority of Senators are needed to pass a motion “to advise and consent”, but unless the appointment has the support of three-fifths of Senators, a filibuster blocking the passage of the motion is possible.

    So does an interested, amateur Englishman know more about the workings of the US Senate than the professional political journalists at the Washington Post, or are they trying to spin it as something it isn’t?

  7. 7
    M can help you with that.

    AsqJames —

    So does an interested, amateur Englishman know more about the workings of the US Senate than the professional political journalists at the Washington Post, or are they trying to spin it as something it isn’t?

    Basically, the vote to end debate (which is what is blocked in a filibuster) has become a de facto vote on the bill/nomination itself, complete with demands of absolute party loyalty (especially on the R side). So yes, only a majority vote is needed; but the political reality is that since a 60% vote is needed to allow a vote, the required majority to pass anything has been 60% for the past several years. (The concept of a “conscience vote”, in which Senators are not required to vote along party lines, is laughable in the US these days; at best, individual senators can get away with an unspecified but limited number of acts of party treason before being ejected from office in the next party primary.)

  8. 8
    shockna

    Does this include Supreme Court appointments, or are they a separate category?

  9. 9
    AsqJames

    M can help you with that –

    Thanks, I think your first sentence is basically what I said @4, although you clearly have a better understanding of it all. I do understand (I think) how it has worked in practice for the last few years, I just wondered how a paper as allegedly reputable as the Washington Post could get such a fundamental fact so wrong.

    They appear to have now changed the linked article, although they appear not to have done so in a transparent manner).

  10. 10
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    My understanding is the way this was done, it encompasses lower court nominees and cabinet. No ledge, no SCOTUS. The former would be pointless with the current House make up, I assume if need be they’d extend it to SCOTUS appts.

  11. 11
    shripathikamath

    Yay! It took five years!

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