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How many votes do you need to pass an amendment in the Senate?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by LAR-15, Nov 20, 2004.

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  1. LAR-15

    LAR-15 Member

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    Thanks
     
  2. TimRB

    TimRB Member

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  3. davec

    davec Member

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  4. M1911Owner

    M1911Owner Member

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    Which, translated, should be something like 67.
     
  5. Ironbarr

    Ironbarr Member In Memoriam

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  6. Dbl0Kevin

    Dbl0Kevin Member

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    You didn't specify an amendment to a bill or an amendment to the Constitution. An amendment to a bill takes only a 51 vote majority.
     
  7. LAR-15

    LAR-15 Member

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    Whoops.......to a bill.
     
  8. Billll

    Billll Member

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    It is said that in the Senate there are only 2 numbers that matter: 50 and 60.
    For ordinary work you need a simple majority, which if you're a republican, that's 50 votes (a tie) plus the vice presidents, who only votes to break ties. If an issue is contentious, such as a judicial appointment, the minority party can have one of it's members file a notice that he has "questions", which is how the now-sissified Senate conducts a fillibuster. Per Senate rules, it requires a supermajority of 60 to call an end to "debate",(invoke cloture) and bring the question to the floor for an up-or-down vote.
    In the old days, if you wanted to stall, you had to stand up and actually speak, nonstop, if you wanted to stop something.

    Lately, the Repubs have been talking about amending the Senate rules to cut a cloture vote on judges back to a simple majority. This is being called the "nuclear" option. I don't believe they really want to do this, because, should they lose their majority, it works both ways. Shades of mutually assured destruction.
     
  9. M1911Owner

    M1911Owner Member

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    BIllll, you mentioned something that I've wondered about. I take it from what you've said that it is no long possible for the President (pro tempore) of the Senate to say, "OK, go ahead and filibuster. Stand there and talk until one of us gets tired and gives up."?
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2004
  10. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Another aspect that needs to be understood and appreciated is that you can't get much done with 50 votes. Because other Senators can amend your bill with the same 50 votes (and even amend it with bills that gut your bill).

    This is what happened in March - the lawsuit protection bill had more than enough sponsors to pass Congress; but they were able to amend the bill with anti-gun amendments until it became unacceptable.
     
  11. LAR-15

    LAR-15 Member

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    So we could turn the tables and amend all the anti gun bills brought up??
     
  12. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    As long as you have the 50+ votes needed to pass the amendment. The problem is that the more controversial an item you propose, the harder it is to get those 50 votes. For example, you could propose a repeal of the 1934 NFA as a poison pill amendment to an anti-gun bill; but unless you have the 50 votes needed to pass it in the Senate, it won't do you much good.

    Also note that motions to limit debate on a bill (60+ votes needed for cloture) can also limit what amendments can be offered - though usually the Senate doesn't.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2004
  13. LAR-15

    LAR-15 Member

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    Aha.

    Gotcha.
     
  14. Billll

    Billll Member

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    M1911Owner:

    There is some discussion going on at various places around the net on this, and as I understand it there was a change in the procedures to allow a "dual track" for Senate business. This prevented a real fillibuster from shutting down the Senate, but made the fillibuster much easier to use. The President pro tem of the Senate doesn't (alas) get to change the rules that easily. The Senate as a whole has to vote them. While the Repubs could certainly do this, not everybody is willing to. We may see the Dems given one last chance to confirm a judge soon, and if they fillibuster again, the rules may be changed.
    Daschle lost his seat after being a prominant obstructionist, and a bunch of Dems are up for re-election in '06. OTOH, some of them know they've got seats for life regardless, and may decide to take the party down on principle.

    Watch carefully what happens to the next judge of any consequence to come up.

    OK, here's an article that explains some of it:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57294-2004Nov17.html
     
  15. tulsamal

    tulsamal Member

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    Not exactly. Let's see if I can explain it!

    Both parties have always tried to obstruct and delay the appointees of the other party. But neither party has ever actually used a filibuster to stop top judicial appointments. The GOP didn't do it to Carter. The Democrats didn't do it to Reagan. The GOP didn't do it to Clinton. But the Democrats started doing it against Bush in his first term. This has raised an interesting question about Senate rules. The Constitution says that the President gets to pick judicial appointments and the Senate gets to give "advice and consent." Is it really advice and consent if you follow a procedure which is intended purely to stop a vote?

    So here's what is going to eventually happen. Sooner or later Bush is going to nominate someone the Democrats hate enough to filibuster again. Then someone on the GOP side is going to file a "point of order." That means they are asking for a vote on how the rules are being interpreted. The point of order is going to ask for a vote on whether a filibuster is really legal in a situation where "advice and consent" is the issue. Shouldn't they be voting yes or no rather than exercising a veto over what is supposed to be a Presidential power? If that point of order actually happens, it only takes a simple majority to win the vote. So the GOP members vote to say that a filibuster can't be used to obstruct a judicial nomination.

    It is being called "the nuclear option" simply because the press is expecting that is exactly what the Democrats will do if it happens: explode into a big giant fireball!

    I'm usually of the opinion that we should let the existing rules stand. But those rules are being abused in this one limited area by members who are using the filibuster to block nominees. That really isn't what was supposed to happen. If they don't like the nominee, vote against him. So I would support the GOP idea for limiting the rules in this area. I think it gets us closer to the spirit of separation of powers than the alternative. That won't stop the Democrats from screaming high and low that the GOP is "playing dirty" though. And will the press be able to explain the whole thing in a five second sound bite?!

    And I don't see it as a big deal in the future. Someday the GOP will be the minority in the Senate again. But filibustering a high level judicial appointee is just wrong regardless of which party does it. The GOP didn't do it before and it's fine with me if they can't do it in the future.

    Gregg
     
  16. DRZinn

    DRZinn Member

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