Democrats Move To Within One Seat Of Senate Majority

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 18:31

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.

Chris Bowers :: Democrats Move To Within One Seat Of Senate Majority

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Sen. Byrd could return to the Senate hail and (4.00 / 4)
hearty tomorrow and it would not make a difference because the Democrats do not maintain party disciple. There is no penalty for voting against cloture on party priorities. Hell you can campaign for the Republican candidate for president and not only remain part of the caucus but remain chairman of prized committees.

Of course, this is also a great fund raising tool during election cycles. We need your money to defect the Republicans and pass important Democratic legislation. Every time just a few more Democrats will do the trick.

really important point (0.00 / 0)
You can even lose a Democratic primary and the party establishment will support you. It's ridiculous.

[ Parent ]
Byrd's status (4.00 / 1)
More on Sen. Byrd's status... he's been out of the hospital for quite a while. He's back in again today after taking a fall and then there being concerns about a possible (unrelated) infection.

If he can avoid picking up an infection while under observation at the hospital, he'll be back out again in a few days.

They call me Clem, Clem Guttata. Come visit wild, wonderful West Virginia Blue

is it Bryd's wish to die in office? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
You could ask that in a more respectable tone, but... (0.00 / 0)
the question is valid. Yup, regarding Senator Byrd's extremely long work, and unquestionable advocacy for the Dem party, it's a bit surprising that he lets his health problems hamper the ability of the Dems to pass important legislation...  

[ Parent ]
late answer (4.00 / 1)
I'm sorry I didn't see these questions earlier. Just in case anyone still checks these comments, this article from a WVa paper lays out the case for Sen. Byrd's effectiveness.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure there's yet to be a vote he missed where he would have been the 60th (or 50th) vote required. I don't think it is fair to say his health problems are a key obstacle to Dems ability to pass important legislation--besides the GOP, Sen. Baucus and some other conservative members of the Dem. caucus have been much bigger obstacles.

Yes, the odds of Sen. Byrd missing a critical vote at the very worst possible moment are slightly higher than the "average" Senator, but there are plenty of other Sens. who are in high health risk categories, too. We don't have any mandatory retirement criteria for Sens. and I think it's a really bad idea to call for any.

They call me Clem, Clem Guttata. Come visit wild, wonderful West Virginia Blue

[ Parent ]
I remember an interesting precedent... (4.00 / 3)
...from the horrible day that Alito was confirmed:

Cloture Vote on the Alito Nomination: 72-25

Confirmation Vote on the Alito Nomination: 58-42

Landrieu, Lincoln, Lieberman, and Carper, all of whom have expressed varying degrees of doubt about the public option, voted to END the Alito filibuster, but voted AGAINST the nomination.

Let the principled skeptics of the public option vote against the bill itself, yet allow an up-or-down vote on a measure every bit as momentous as the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice.

Doesn't help if Byrd can't vote, but worth remembering.

Consider the situation reversed! (4.00 / 3)
With a 60-40 split for Reps over Dems, the only thing the public would see is the tire tracks over the entire Dem party, as the Reps steamrolled everything they wanted to get done, while at the same time not caring one whit about the need for bi-partisanship, and making no real attempt to govern in a collaborative manner.

To some degree, if the Dems continue to screw things up, they'll truly have no one else to blame for their loss of power, while they'll bemoan the fact they no longer have the power to make the progressive changes needed.  


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