Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coburn Endangers the Filibuster

Tom Coburn has stopped progress on the health care bill by forcing the Senate reading clerk to read the entire Sanders (single-payer) amendment.

This is good news for those who want to see the filibuster eliminated. Two reasons. First, Senators have always placed a very large priority on retaining as much individual influence as possible over the actions of the Senate. If, however, some Senators are perceived to be abusing that influence, majority-party Senators may decide that they'd rather have a functioning Senate with a little less individual influence than a totally non-functioning Senate. Second, most Washingonians accept (for better or worse, and regardless of the actual history) that the filibuster is an important and traditional part of the government -- and that use of the filibuster, even at the current levels, is within the informal rules and norms of the Senate. However, they're unlikely to feel the same way about innovative delay-for-delay's sake tactics.

I expect that Coburn will stop this crap soon -- probably this afternoon, but maybe not until tomorrow (C-SPAN estimates that the reading will take until midnight). If he doesn't, however, I think we can expect some nice feature stories sympathetic to the poor reading clerk, to the rest of the staff (especially the non-professional staff), and about how much it costs to keep the Senate going around the clock for no reason.

And if Harry Reid is smart, when he loses his temper about it in front of the press (and you know he will), he'll mention something about the filibuster not appearing in the Constitution, and maybe it's time to respect majority rule in the Senate. Whether it's a good idea or not, it's time to start at least bluffing in that direction.


  1. If Reid does as you suggest, even I would consider sending him a contribution.

  2. "If Harry Reid is smart"

    Best joke I've heard in months


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