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Sat Dec 29, 2012, 11:14 AM

Fiscal Cliff: No One Is Going To Cry For Repukes When They Lose Ability To Obstruct In Next Congress

The Cliff, the Deal, and the Filibuster
by BooMan
Fri Dec 28th, 2012 at 09:07:05 PM EST


In any case, while we're in the subject of the filibuster, it's helpful to keep it in mind as we go careening off the fiscal cliff. In his statement tonight, the president said that he was cautiously optimistic that a deal could still be reached but that, if no deal came into place, he would ask Harry Reid to bring a basic bill to the floor for an up or down vote.

...I expect a bill to go on the floor -- and I've asked Senator Reid to do this -- put a bill on the floor that makes sure that taxes on middle-class families donít go up, that unemployment insurance is still available for two million people, and that lays the groundwork, then, for additional deficit reduction and economic growth steps that we can take in the New Year.

Normally, the Republicans would filibuster a bill like this. However, they have a number of considerations that are not normally in play. Number one is the clock. The act of filibustering is actually the act of not agreeing to a motion to proceed. That forces the Majority Leader to invoke cloture which takes time to 'ripen.' Specifically, the cloture petition is ignored for one full-day, so one filed on Monday cannot be voted on until Wednesday. If the Republicans don't agree to an up or down vote on Sunday (the 30th of December) they will have effectively stalled the process through to the cliff. Do they want to do that?

And, if they are worried that the Democrats might have the momentum and unity to change the filibuster rules, using a high profile filibuster at the end of this Congress (in direct defiance of the president) would probably remove any doubt about the matter.

Of course, even if Harry Reid passes a bill in the Senate, that doesn't mean that John Boehner will be willing or able to match him in the House. But that creates a further conundrum from Mitch McConnell. Does he filibuster and take all the blame, or does he dump it all in Boehner's lap, split the Republicans, and lose the message war?

One thing is for sure. If there is no deal and there is a filibuster in the Senate, no one is going to cry for the Republicans when they lose some of their ability to obstruct in the next Congress.


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