Friday, October 30, 2009

Lieberman's intriguing idea

Way back in 1994, Joe Lieberman had dreadful things to say about the filibuster. (Using it to derail health care reform wasn't even a twinkle in his eye yet.) He proposed something interesting -- not its elimination, but a modification of Senate rules that would make it steadily less powerful. As Sam Stein explains,
The Senate would still need 60 votes on the first motion to end debate, (the cloture vote). But the next motion would require just 57 votes, the third motion 54 votes, and the fourth and final effort would need just 51 votes -- a simple majority. In all, roughly 25 days would elapse between the first and fourth vote.
As Ezra Klein explains, this would have still allowed the filibuster to do the things that Greg Koger likes, such as giving voice to minority sentiments, but it would have destroyed its ability to obstruct the will of the majority.

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