Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Big News? On Dems and Filibuster

Given the steep climb toward 60, Senate Democratic leaders have begun to make another argument to lawmakers. They are pressing colleagues to vote with the party on procedural matters related to health care legislation and against any filibuster — a 60-vote issue — even if they intend to oppose the measure in the end when simple majority rules.

Senators are usually reluctant to clear the way for a bill they might vote against since they relinquish their most powerful leverage, but the message is evidently reaching some.

“It is difficult to ask someone to facilitate the enactment of legislation with which they disagree,” Mr. Bayh said. “But to move the process forward, to improve things, to get to the point where you can support it substantively, that of course I would be willing to do.”
That's two pieces of news -- first, that the Democrats are actively soliciting Yes/No votes to get cloture, and second, that they may be having some success. (I'm not aware of either of these things being reported to date). Bayh is a major player here; he's certaily one of the five most conservative Democrats, perhaps even the second most conservative Democrat. So if he's willing to be a Yes/No, voting for cloture but against the bill, it's a very big deal. Unfortunately, his comment isn't very specific, and the reporter (about which more in the next post) doesn't follow up. Is Bayh saying that he would flat-out vote Yes/No? Or is he only open to a cloture vote on the motion to proceed? Would he help get a bill he dislikes into conference?

Reporters should be working this story -- what sorts of lobbying efforts for "Yes/No" are ongoing, and whether marginal Democrats are buying it -- a lot harder than they have been.

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