Nov
22
2013

With Filibuster Flip-Flops, George Will Displays His (Groucho) Marxist Tendencies

George Will may be the dean of conservative punditry with a reputation for sober consistency, but when it comes to intellectual honesty and principle–well, a person could get whiplash trying to follow his opportunistic and hypocritical positions over the years. On Thursday's Special Report on Fox News (1/21/13), George Will was sad that the Democrats had invoked the "nuclear option," preventing Senate minorities from using the filibuster to block presidential appointments, other than Supreme Court nominees. "It was a melancholy day for American life," said Will: It diminishes minority rights, which are always at threat in a democracy, where majorities […]

Feb
25
2010

George Will's Perfectly Consistent Filibuster Position

In his Washington Post column today (2/25/10), George Will writes in defense of the filibuster, arguing that Democrats' talk of using budget reconciliation rules to pass ahealthcare bill demonstrates their contempt for the Constitution. He has been perfectly consistent on the question of minority rule–it depends on who the minority is.Back when Republicans filibustered a Clinton economic stimulus bill in 1993, hecheered them on in a column headlined "The Framers' Intent" (Washington Post, 4/25/93). Will defended "the right of a minority to use extended debate to obstruct Senate action" and praised "the generation that wrote and ratified the Constitution" for […]

Mar
10
2009

How Many Votes Does It Take to Pass a Senate Bill?

Writing about the Employee Free Choice Act, Melanie Trottman and Brody Mullins of the Wall Street Journal write (3/10/09): At least six Senators who have voted to move forward with the so-called card-check proposal, including one Republican, now say they are opposed or not sure–an indication that Senate Democratic leaders are short of the 60 votes they need for approval. It really is worth being specific on this: It does not take 60 votes to pass an ordinary bill in the Senate; it takes a majority of the senators voting. If everyone is present, it takes 51 votes, or 50 […]

Feb
13
2009

The 60-Vote Myth

You see it all the time: You need 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate. Not exactly. Under Senate rules–which can be changed by a majority vote–you need the consent of 3/5ths of the Senate to close debate on an issue; that's 60 votes. To pass a bill, you need a majority of those present. Since Ted Kennedy is sick and Al Franken has not yet been seated, that's 49 votes. Is that an academic distinction? No, not really. Politically, voting against an emergency stimulus bill is very different from voting to block a vote on an emergency […]

Feb
09
2009

The Time-Honored Anti-Democratic Tradition

"Though seemingly forgotten by most TV talking heads," it's still fresh in Robert Parry's mind (Consortium News, 2/9/09) how "it was only three years ago, when the Republicans had control of both the White House and Congress–and 'filibuster' was a dirty word": It was usually coupled with "obstructionist" amid demands that any of George W. Bush's proposals deserved "an up-or-down vote." Yet now, with the Democrats holding the White House and Congress, the Republicans and the Washington press corps have come to view the filibuster fondly, as a valued American tradition, a time-honored part of a healthy legislative process. Today, […]