Democrats are inching closer to taking control of the United States Senate:
The Massachusetts Senate agreed Tuesday to give the governor the power to appoint an interim U.S. senator, which could pave the way for an appointment to fill Edward M. Kennedy 's vacant seat as early as Wednesday.
The Senate voted 24-16. Nine Democrats and all five Republicans voted against the bill.
So, Democrats will soon have 60 Senators again. According to most Democrats, this is the minimum number required to control the United States Senate. However, since Senator Robert Byrd remains in the hospital, Republicans will maintain control even once this interim appointment is sworn in,
Snark aside, it is worth noting that without the filibuster, having only 52 Democratic Senators would actually be a significant improvement on the current Senate. The Conservadems would be a smaller percentage of the overall caucus, and Democrats could lose two Senators--instead of the current zero--and still pass legislation.
Progressives far and wide have mocked and attacked Senator Max Baucus for deciding to negotiate with an even number of Democrats and Republicans despite the 60-40 Democratic majority. However, the entire Senate Democratic caucus is doing the exact same thing as Max Baucus on every single piece of legislation except the budget. Because they are not challenging the Republican abuse of the filibuster, they have all effectively decided to give themselves the same number of votes in the Senate as Republicans on every issue, and even allowed Senator Byrd to serve as a tie-breaker in favor of Republicans while he recovers in the hospital.
It doesn't have to be this way, but Senate Democrats have decided that it should be that way. And so, we are not taking anywhere near full advantage of the best chance for progressive federal legislation since 1965. Senate manners are apparently the most important policy of all.