The Senate and the Illusion of Power
posted by Mike McClellan
at 9 May, 9:08 AM 0
So with the stomping of Indiana Senator Richard Lugar by the TEA Party-backed and funded State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, some see the possibility of a conservative Senate in 2013, maybe even a Republican-majority Senate.
And with that, some see a return to a dominant, uncompromising conservative legislating. The kind we see here in our Arizona legislature, where a Republican majority is able to ignore Democrats and do mostly as they please.
But on a national level, this return is an illusion.
To really move any piece of controversial legislation along, its supporters need at least 60 Senate votes. That supermajority prevents endless debate on the bill, allowing to cap the number of hours allowed for debate before a vote.
Called cloture, this is a tactic to prevent the minority from effectively filibustering legislation.
An example took place yesterday, where on a 52-45 vote, Senate Republicans blocked the bill to keep new student loans at the present interest rate.
So unless the elections in November cause a dramatic shift in the Senate makeup, even a Republican-majority Senate potentially won’t get much done.
Because the new-minority Democrats could — and would — use the same tactics the Republican Senators have over the last four years.
Little will be done. Florida Senator Richard Graham says that increasingly he is seeing “end zone poltics” : newer Senators from both parties representing the extremes of their parties’ politics, and fewer in the middle.
Some of our newer Senators and Representatives come in with the “no compromise” mantra.
Which leads of course, to the rest of the mantra: “nothing is accomplished.”