The Senate Filibuster

Obama explains it all for you on p. 244 of A Promised Land (Amazing: 44 explains the filibuster on p. 244 — Quelle synchronicité!). Those of you about to expire from boredom because self quotes 44 every day, know that she has barreled through 1/3 of the book in 8 days. She usually picks up her reading pace towards the end, so give her another week or so. All right?

  • This piece of legislative foolishness “isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. Instead, it came into being by happenstance.”

It’s all the fault of Vice-President Aaron Burr, who wasn’t very smart.

Self doesn’t have time to explain what Burr did in 1805, but here’s the money paragraph:

  • It didn’t take long for Senators to figure out that without a formal way to end debate, any of them could bring Senate business to a halt — and thereby extract all sorts of concessions from frustrated colleagues — simply by talking endlessly and refusing to surrender the floor. In 1917, the Senate curbed the practice by adopting “cloture,” allowing a vote of two-thirds of senators present to end a filibuster. For the next fifty years the filibuster was used only sparingly — most notably by Southern Democrats attempting to block anti-lynching and fair-employment bills or other legislation that threatened to shake up Jim Crow. Gradually, though, the filibuster became more routinized and easier to maintain, making it a more potent weapon, a means for the minority party to get its way. The mere threat of a filibuster was often enough to derail a piece of legislation. By the 1990s, as battle lines between Republicans and Democrats hardened, whichever party was in the minority could — and would — block any bill not to their liking, so long as they remained unified and had at least the 41 votes needed to keep a filibuster from being overriden.

The filibuster is the reason why we have legislators like Hawley, Cruz, Nunes and so forth performing shenanigans all over the place and getting away with it. Nevertheless, self is pretty hopeful after listening to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer telling the ladies of The View this morning that, every Monday night, he meets with Democratic party leadership (He mentioned Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Manchin and a few others) and they discuss what needs to be done to get a piece of legislation passed; it’s a cordial group and he has no doubt they will be able to stay united because they are all intelligent and principled people who have the best interests of the country at heart!

In other news:

TODAY WAS MERRICK GARLAND’s FIRST DAY OF WORK AS US ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Woo Hoo! Confetti! Streamers! Mad Clapping!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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