Thursday, December 13, 2007

I just don't get it

Look, I'm a political science major, and I've stayed abreast of politics since college. I know that in the US Senate (under its rules, not under the Constitution, mind you) it takes 60 votes to invoke closure and therefore to force a floor vote on proposed legislation. I know, therefore, that if a measure--like the energy bill yesterday--receives "only" 59 votes for passage, those 59 votes could not cut off debate if the opponents of the bill demanded to continue. In other words, if those opposing the bill chose to filibuster the bill, they could continue to do so for eternity and thereby tie up the Senate to avoid a floor vote on the bill, which, if allowed, would pass by a simple majority vote.

My question is this: Why don't the Democrats simply keep the bill on the floor and thereby require that the Republicans filibuster the bill? Make them spend Christmas on the Senate floor, make them keep the floor for weeks and months to avoid a closure vote? Particularly in this case, where the Republicans (and one Democrat, Breaux from Louisiana) are opposed to the energy bill as it's written because it increases some taxes on the massively-profiteering oil companies.

Am I crazy here, or are the Democrats simply cowards?

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