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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Smilin' Norm Coleman -- Courage under Obfuscation

Posted by: Hammer / 7:55 AM

Sen. Norm Coleman has an op-ed piece in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. A taste:

On legislative matters, the Senate has a long history of filibustering. Even so, I have generally supported cloture votes when used to bring up a measure for debate and improvement on the Senate floor. For example, I've received some criticism for supporting cloture on a defense bill in 2005 that included a provision related to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), because I wanted to move the bill forward and take care of our troops. Ultimately, the ANWR provision was stripped from the bill and I was then able to support its final passage.

Unfortunately, since Sen. Reid took over as majority leader in January, he has filed cloture 46 times, compared to just 16 at the same point in 2005 or 11 at the same point in 2003 when Republicans were in control of the Senate. Nearly one in six roll-call votes taken in the Senate this year has been a cloture vote.

Darn that Harry Reid! Always trying to stifle debate. See, it's Harry Reid's fault for trying to cut off debate. You just can't blame Republicans for filibustering at a record pace.

I'm not an expert on the procedure of the Senate. My understanding is that the Senate traditionally governs debate through unanimous consent (PDF). The Senators agree on the parameters of the debate before the debate begins. Cloture For example, there was no cloture vote in the passage of the Pendsion Funding Equity Act of 2003:

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, pursuant to the order previously agreed to, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to the consideration of H.R. 3108, the pension bill.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


In other words, absent unanimous consent, a bill cannot move forward without a cloture vote. One Republican senator is all it takes to require cloture. Blaming Harry Reid for following through on cloture votes is hypocrisy at its finest.

Fact is, the Republican senators have filibustered everything -- even the ethics reform package which recently passed the House again -- 411 to 8.

But at least one Republican Senator is threatening to filibuster ethics reform, as well. At the least we will see yet another vote on cloture, because Republican senators require it:

Those conservatives, led by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) are expected to block immediate consideration of the bill, and force a vote to end their filibuster, but after the lopsided House vote, Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nevada), asked, "Isn't it legitimate to ask the Republicans how they really want to proceed?"

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The NYT article suggests to me DeMint will filibuster because the bill isn't tough enough on earmarks...sounds like a positive move to me - but creating the headline "opposes ethics reform bill" is probably not a good hop in the same week Ted Steven's house is raided by the FBI.

By Blogger Captain Liberty, at 12:21 PM  

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