The momentum to amend the filibuster to make it less susceptible to abuse is growing and growing. The cause has now been taken up by more non-partisan media outlets, includingUSA Today, CBS Evening News,
That's good for the LGBT agenda, because the minority is holding every bill hostage by threatening to filibuster everything. That would require 60 votes, which we don't have right now. A bedrock Constitutional concept -- majority rule -- has been abolished, and we need to fix it -- now.
But then comes the common wisdom -- amending the Senate filibuster rule requires a two-thirds majority -- 67 votes, which we certainly don't have.
But this common wisdom appears to be wrong. (Click on the picture above for a lesson on common wisdom.) We don't need to start by "amending" Senate Rule XXII -- we need to start by "suspending" it. And according to Senate Rule V, suspending a rule only requires a majority vote.
Now, I'm not an expert in Senate parliamentary procedure. Possibly there is some arcane reason why this can't happen. But I've done a lot of research on this point, and come up with no explanation. Given the imperative of getting the Senate logjam moving -- we need to start re-examining common wisdom.
Meanwhile, Harry Reid and all sorts of other people, including Rachel Maddow and a number of guest on her show -- have made the assumption that ending the filibuster would require 67 votes. I question that, and I challenge someone to explain why my suggestion won't work.
Here's Senate Rule V:
SUSPENSION AND AMENDMENT OF THE RULES
1. No motion to suspend, modify, or amend any rule, or any part thereof, shall be in order, except on one day's notice in writing, specifying precisely the rule or part proposed to be suspended, modified, or amended, and the purpose thereof. Any rule may be suspended without notice by the unanimous consent of the Senate, except as otherwise provided by the rules.
2. The rules of the Senate shall continue from one Congress to the next Congress unless they are changed as provided in these rules.
It says nothing here -- or elsewhere, as far as I can tell -- about requiring anything more than a majority vote to suspend a rule. What rule would need to be suspended in order to pass Senator Harkin's Senate Resolution 416 amending the filibuster procedure?
That would be Rule XXII, which contains the filibuster procedure itself. Under Rule XXII, Senator Harkin's Resolution could be subjected to a filibuster by Republicans. It would then take 67 votes for cloture, to break the filibuster, 7 more than usual. That's because Rule XXII provides that if a bill involves an amendment to the Senate Rules, the filibuster can only be stopped with a two-thirds majority, which is 67 votes.
But here comes the magic of Rule V. Under Rule V, Senate Rule XXII could itself be suspended. Then, Senator Harkin's Bill could be considered without the 67-vote requirement to stop the filibuster, and the filibuster on his Resolution could be broken with a simple majority.
But will this work? I don't know -- but I would like to know why not. It's less convoluted than some of the complicated suggestions that I've heard elsewhere.
Why hasn't this been done before? I don't know. Who knows what those Senators have been doing all these years?
If there's some obscure parliamentary precedent that governs this -- why can't that precedent be overturned? Precedents are overturned all the time.
At the very least, I'd like to hear some of the commentators on this issue at least address why suspension under Senate Rule V is or is not possible.
Let's all put our heads together and get the Senate moving again.
For more legal information about the 51 vote requirements, see my last post on the subject.