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The Cost of the Filibuster: Too Low and Too High.

The problems of the filibuster could be mitigated by making it more obstructive.

Sparing you another attempt to explain the GameStop Short Squeeze. You’re welcome.

For a good many measures before the Senate, it takes not 51 votes, but 60 votes to pass. Technically not to pass, but to proceed to where they can be passed. The term for this is cloture—the closing of debate. Without cloture, the debate continues and the measure does not come up for a vote.

At one point in time, the filibuster, the continuation of debate, was much more obstructive than today. Today the filibuster approaches a practical veto without any cost to the Senator who wields it. The cost of raising an objection to progress in the Senate in modern times, under both parties, is farcical. They need not engage in incessant speech. They do not substantially obstruct the whole body of the Senate to block a measure. They simply place their padlock and move on. Only if enough members care about the measure will the boltcutters be brought in.

The way that a filibuster should work, must work for it to be a reasonable tool to keep around is that it must put the choice to all concerned. It must be a head-on collision if it is to be useful and not poison to the body. With a head-on collision, the parties must be sober about the conflict. Nothing can be done if the blockage is put up, and so both parties feel the pain. It is a sort of trial-by-combat measure: the opposition says they will not budge, the majority says they want the measure passed. Whoever cares most, their will endures and the measure passes or falls.

The dull-blade filibuster cuts the Senate far too often and without any settlement of long-standing issues. The log remains unhewn, while the wielder is constantly bloodied. It should not be so.

Whether the filibuster remains or falls away is not the question. The question is about the present form of the filibuster being unworkable. The majority should consider both options: either sharpen it or scuttle it.

Is one preferable, whether to the current agenda or the health of the Senate? Not really. The Senate’s health ultimately depends on being in a position to legislate again. Trial and error—experience—is how the Senate will wear down the rough edges that keep it from being capable of much legislation. That position comes in both cases.

In the case of a hard filibuster, on any given issue one of the two sides will fold. The legislation will move if the opposition caves, and won’t if the proponents cave (in all-or-nothing cases; if there’s a particular section to be amended, the legislation may survive even if a part falls). But after that point, the next item on the calendar may come up and, if it’s not worth the same do-or-die fight, it will be passed.

I do think having a tool for the minority to force an issue is useful from time to time. It puts things in perspective if there’s a cost to doing so. It’s a picked battle rather than another in a long line of vetos.

But keeping the filibuster as is does not serve the interest of the Senate, the minority, the majority, or anyone at all.

Why the Senate Murdered the Judicial Filibuster

Why did the Senate kill off the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees?

I’m asking, because I have no idea.

The filibuster was meant to let the minority block a nominee under circumstances like these. Instead, the Republicans decided it was useless and discarded it all while praising what it represented.

It doesn’t add up. Was the filibuster talking to the Russians?

And what other rules might be at stake? Have the Republicans been bitten by the two-out-one-in rule that the president is using?

They want to add a rule about forcing all Senators to eat bacon, which means no Judicial Filibuster and no pants? Great.

Or maybe the Republicans think that the immediate gain of having no cloture hurdle will pay off. All the liberal justices will die or retire, and Trump will nominate Neil Gorsuch’s five sisters to the bench (all played by Gorsuch in drag). Nobody will notice the crooked lipstick, and the court will finally rule that the Constitution says that Republicans are the cool kids.

But they know full well it’s a matter of when and not if the Democrats will be positioned to confirm another justice. Are they betting that the Democrats are better men than they, willing to be more moderate in their nominations, willing to actually hold real hearings?

Because that’s been true, to a point. But the rhetoric from Democrats is getting harsher. The Democratic streak of Republican-style obstinacy may just be coming out, and the Republicans won’t be safe.

It would have been far simpler to find another Neil Gorsuch. There are at least ten thousand qualified people to sit on that bench. Going to 9 9 9 9 will not threaten our strategic reserve of judges.

Or maybe this was the moment for the Republicans to lay down the law. Cut the head off in the bud, like Barney Fife used to say. Now the Democrats know which side of the pants the bread is buttered upon. Wipes dust off of hands.

Now that the Democrats have been denied all power, they will simply pack it up. It’s not like the Republicans need them anyway. They’re not the Republicans’ real mom.

It all just seems like too small of a fight to upend the rules of the body for. Time will tell and teach.