Sunday, July 5, 2009

Do Democrats Have "Filibuster-Proof" Senate? Don't Count on It

With Democrat Al Franken of Minnesota soon to be joining the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus comes the assertion from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the Senate is now "filibuster proof."

What Mr. Reid is referring to is the the ability of the 58 Democrats and two Independents to vote in favor of a cloture motion that would override a filibuster by the body's 40 Republicans. This, of course, assumes that all the 58 Democrats and two Independents would actually vote to override a Republican-initiated filibuster.

But in reality, could this ever happen. Let's presume, for a moment, that a climate change bill gets to the Senate floor and the Senate Republicans initiate a filibuster. Can Mr. Reid count on all 58 Democrats to vote to override the filibuster? Well, let's take a look at some of those who are in the 58. Senator Evan Byah of Indiana -- he's hardly a firm vote. Or Senator Mary Landrou of Louisiana -- I wouldn't want to count on her. Then there's Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- a Democrat in name only. Mr. Reid might not be able to count on Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. And then the two senators from Coal, Inc., West Virginia -- Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller. Not sure I would want to count on them either.

Out of the 40 Republican Senators, there are a few...well two to be exact...who might vote to override a filibuster -- Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine.

In any case, I'm not sure how Mr. Reid reaches the 60 votes necessary to override a fillibuster.

Maybe Mr. Franken should reprise his Stuart Smalley Saturday Night Live role for Mr. Reid: "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me." Well, many people do indeed like Mr. Reid, but don't bet on any unanimous Democratic votes to override a climate change related filibuster.

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