Cloture Is Now Officially Meaningless
Here are two pairs of numbers which look awfully similar. The cloture vote for the Senate health care bill: 60-39. The vote for final passage of the Senate health care bill: 60-39. Thanks to Democratic caucus members like Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu, the distinction between cloture and the bill itself has disappeared.
It used to be that the cloture battles were fought on the other side of the aisle: The majority caucus would all vote for cloture, and then try to peel off enough votes from the minority caucus to get to 60 votes. No longer. This is the new way of the Senate:
1) Republicans will threaten to filibuster everything, therefore nothing can pass without 60 votes.
2) The Conservadems For Lieberman caucus will join with the Republicans against cloture unless they get a bill they are willing to vote for. Coupled with Item 1, this gives each individual member unilateral veto power. (Of course, the same is true of the more progressive Senators in the Democratic caucus, but none of them are willing to play this card.)
3) The Conservadems For Lieberman caucus are a bunch of corrupt, hypocritical dicks who will only vote for shitty corporate-friendly bills, therefore only shitty corporate-friendly bills can pass a cloture vote.
4) The Conservadems For Lieberman caucus will never face any form of party discipline for their actions. They will never have to worry about losing committee chairs or seats, or a lack of DSCC support in their next election.
5) Reconciliation? Is that even a real word? I think the liberals just made it up.
To be fair, there was that time when some moderate Republican Senators used the threat of a filibuster to water down one of Dubya’s signature initiatives into such a lukewarm ineffective mess that the entire conservative blogosphere fractured bitterly over whether the compromised legislation was better or worse than nothing. Anyone remember that? Yeah, me neither.