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60 Votes? Don’t Be Chumps

Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post:

When it comes to progressive priorities in the Senate, there’s one standard: 60 votes are needed. But for Ben Bernanke, there’s a second standard: 50 will be just fine, thank you. Democratic leaders in the Senate are asking colleagues who are reluctant to support Bernanke’s nomination for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman to nevertheless vote with them to end a filibuster and allow a vote on the actual nomination. The reluctant members would then be free to vote no to express their displeasure. Several Democrats have committed to just that and others are considering it.

The public health insurance option was stripped from health care reform because it didn’t have 60 votes. An expansion of Medicare took its place but it, too, was dropped for having fewer than 60. Both proposals had at least 50 votes. Dawn Johnsen, a nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, has the backing of progressive organizations, but a 60-vote threshold has held her up for a year.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters on Monday afternoon after a meeting with Bernanke that some opponents of the chairman had pledged to support him on the first vote, but not on the second. “I know that there are some Democrats who have stated publicly that they are not going to vote ultimately for his nomination as chairman of the Fed. Many, not all, but many of these Senate Democrats have said that they won’t stop us on procedural votes. So we may have their support on cloture but not on final passage,” he said.

HuffPost asked Durbin why they’d make that commitment for Bernanke but not for health care. “I don’t know. That’s a good question. They come up with different standards in terms of how they do things,” Durbin replied.

Public option, popular in swing districts: 60 votes. The loathed Ben Bernanke, popular with bankers: 50.

We get it.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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