Thursday, July 19, 2007

If You're Gonna Do It...

So the Republicans, now finding themselves in the minority, have taken a slightly different view of the filibuster than the one they held during the Great Judicial Nomination Kerfuffle of 2005. They have decided to filibuster the Levin-Reed Amendment, which would call for all troops to be withdrawn from Iraq in 120 days from the bill's passage and currently has 53 supporters in the Senate (Republican Senators Hagel, Snowe, Collins, and Gordon Smith support the measure; Independent Lieberman is opposed). I'll bet there are more than a few Republicans who are happy Frist didn't pull off the "nuclear option" back in '05...

Anyway, as you may have heard, Majority Leader Harry Reid took the unusual step of actually making Republicans hold their filibuster instead of just threaten to do so. This is good, but after the failure of the cloture vote yesterday morning (by a 52-47 vote; Reid had to vote no for procedural reasons), Reid meekly withdrew the bill for consideration later.

Here's the thing about the filibuster in recent years: no one has actually used the filibuster in a while. The minority has simply used the threat of the filibuster to block legislation. The old practice of actually talking a bill to death has fallen somewhat by the wayside. I say: revive it. The filibuster is, at its core, a battle of wills. Who will cave first? Will the bill's opponents tire of talking and support cloture? Or will the bill's supporters tire and withdraw the measure?

So Reid should leave the Levin-Reed Amendment before the Senate and keep debate open. If the Republicans are so passionate about defeating this bill, they should be forced to grind the Senate to a halt, keeping themselves and their colleagues in Washington through the August break, to do so.

2 comments:

Pierce said...

If you didn't catch The Daily Show's segment on it the other night, you really should: this link pops up a window.

Aasif Mandvi is one of the best correspondents they've had.

Michael said...

So I'm curious:
Who would you have talk, and what would you have him say?