Senate Rules

Monday, February 01, 2010

John Stanton, staff writer at Roll Call, helps explain "reconciliation," "filibustering," "merging bills," and all the other confusing Senate rules that may affect the future of health care and other major legislation.

What would be your next move? Are Democrats better off starting over on health care or using procedural work-arounds to get bits and pieces passed? Comment below!


John Stanton

Comments [6]

gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan

i have to smile at President Obama's saying (apparently sincerely), "i'm not an ideologue [chuckling in the audience] ... i'm *not*."

suppose someone says publicly (with the same sincerity), "i'm not in the Mob [chuckling in the audience] ... i'm *not*."

but, at least a dozen or so of his long-time associates, as well as current appointees, are 'all mobbed up'.

would anyone believe for a second that he was being honest with *himself*?

Feb. 02 2010 12:45 AM
Eugenia Renskoff from Wlliamsburgh, Brooklyn

All the arguing in the world between one party and the other won’t make good and affordable health care available. As far as I’m concerned it makes me sad to think that I’ll need to go elsewhere to be seen by a doctor and a dentist. Don't the politicians realize that we, the uninsured ones, need to have medical insurance? Eugenia Renskoff

Feb. 01 2010 04:16 PM

If the Senate were made to actually go through a public process ala J. Stewart, the filibuster might make sense. If it is like turning on a light switch, then we get what we have now.

Its most conspicuous use before its most recent abuse was by southern Senators protecting segregation.

BTW: LBJ's famed arm twisting ability did not account as much for passing civil rights, medicare and medicaid as did the majorities he had when he was president. (see below)

Lyndon Johnson was a great leader of the Senate, but his legendary arm twisting proclivity was more in evidence in the 1950s when he was the Senate leader.

LBJ did get some GOP votes, but, then again, there was a liberal wing in the GOP (remember GOP Congressman John Lindsay?).

89th Congress control:


1961-1963 64 36
1963-1965 66 34
1965-1967 68 32
1967-1969 64 36


1961-1963 263 174 0
1963-1965 259 176 0
1965-1967 295 140 0
1967-1969 247 187 1

Feb. 01 2010 11:21 AM
Bob from Pelham

I've read that the current Senate rules on filibuster no longer require actual on-the-floor speachifying ala Jimmy Stewart, but merely an off-floor invoking of the filibuster (sort of like the anonymous hold). can your guest shed any light on this?

Feb. 01 2010 10:58 AM
Alan from Upstate from Catskills

Democrats (and Republican moderates) did not WANT to reduce the 60 vote requirement when the Republicans controlled the Senate and tried it (only to be stopped by the gang of 14 Senators) a few years back.

Do we/Would we really want to permanently reduce the filibuster threshold considering that it will also be used against us whenever Republicans next control the Senate....? Is this likely to produce better government (or worse government) over the course of time and changing Senate incarnations?

Feb. 01 2010 10:36 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

If both parties agree that filibustering should end, it seems to me that it should be the party in the minority pressing the hardest for the end of filibustering. The party in the minority has the most to lose and would be able to take the high ground on the issue. The Democrats should have pushed for it under Bush and the Republicans should be pushing for it now.

Perhaps the two sides could find a way to end filibustering in all areas except judicial nominees since this is the area where both sides would, in theory at least, want to find the most common ground.

Feb. 01 2010 10:11 AM

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