The Four-Month Supermajority

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Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:03 am

In the final stretch of the Massachusetts special election for Senate, Republican candidate Scott Brown has focused on “restoring balance” to Washington. He’ll be the “41st vote” to filibuster legislation; the Democrats’ hold on 60 votes has let liberals run the country into the ground. “That’s not what the founders intended,” he said Monday during the final debate.

The irony is that if Democrats lose the seat, they will have had a working 60-seat majority for all of four months — much of which was spent with the Senate in recess. They opened the Congress in January with 58 votes, counting the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), not counting Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), whose razor-thin victory was held up by lawsuits from former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). On April 28, 2009, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) switched to the Democratic Party, bringing the Democrats to 59 votes without Franken. When Franken was finally sworn in on into the Senate on July 7, 2009, the badly ailing Kennedy was unable to vote and break filibusters. Kennedy died on Aug.25, 2009, but it took Massachusetts Democrats — who run every aspect of their state government — a full month to pass legislation seating a replacement, Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.). He took office on Sept. 24, 2009. Only then, and only depending on whether Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) was well, did the Democrats have a supermajority.

Whatever happens in Massachusetts, I’d expect the clamor on liberal blogs and op-ed pages for filibuster reform to increase in volume. Right now the Democrats have the worst of both worlds — the appearance, but not the reality, of total control of Congress.

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27 Comments

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Don
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

The Democrats have the House, the Senate, and the Whitehouse. What are you trying to do with this silly post? Are you trying to make excuses for the Dem's inability to do anything of value ALREADY? Obama has had one year of failures, and pushed this country deeper into reccession, and you look to defend them by saying “Oh Teddy was sick and Franken wasn't in the whole time”…Please. THe lunatics have been running the asylum for a year and all we got was poorer….none of your excuses.


pococurante
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

Don, go read the Washington Post from yesterday today. Obama already cut more waste in a year with a democratic Congress than Bush did with a Republican government for six years.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/14…

The GOP propaganda simply papers over how they sell the US taxpayer to Wall Street. Month by month.


goodthing
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

“Obama already cut more waste in a year with a democratic Congress…”

Good thing Obama cut $6.9 billion in waste–otherwise the 2009 would have been $1.8069 trillion instead of just $1.8 trillion


David Weigel
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

My narrow point is that Brown is campaigning against the damage Democrats are doing with their supermajority, and I don't think people realize how many holes there have been in that majority, and how Republicans have been able to take advantage of them.

It's silly to say Democrats “run” everything when unified Republican filibusters can block bills with majority support.


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Comment posted January 17, 2010 @ 9:20 am

If either Sen Kennedy or Sen Byrd had resigned – or not run again – when it became evident that their health would not allow them to function fully in their roles, the Dems could have avoided the fix they are in today. Seems holding on to personal power is/was more important than leading the nation.


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Comment posted January 17, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

If either Sen Kennedy or Sen Byrd had resigned – or not run again – when it became evident that their health would not allow them to function fully in their roles, the Dems could have avoided the fix they are in today. Seems holding on to personal power is/was more important than leading the nation.


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Comment posted July 26, 2010 @ 6:45 am

It's silly to say Democrats “run” everything when unified Republican filibusters can block bills with majority support.


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