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February 22, 2007

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But where do the new resolutions say that a new Senate majority *can't* reset the committees?

The fact that in one resolution the parties agreed on the existence of a certain power inherent in the majority does not by itself that the majority doesn't inherently have that power absent such agreement.

To suggest otherwise is to say that, somehow, the minority has inherent power to prevent such a switch absent express agreement. So which side has inherent power: the majority (to switch), or the minority (to block a switch)?

At least we agree on one thing: We both welcome Joe Lieberman switching affiliations.

Adam White: I believe a resolution changing the organizing resolutions would have a hard time making it out of the (Dem.-controlled) rules committee. Could it be filibustered? I don't see why not.

Actually, I think Nixon, who was vice-president for the 83rd, said it would be unconstitutional to reorganzie the senate.

Joe5348

It occured to me that the Republicans could theoretically use the so-called 'nuclear option' to regain control of the Senate, but that seems a remarkably short-sighted move. I don't know if even the Republicans are foolish enough to burn that bridge, particularly when the gains would be so small. With the Senate as closely divided as it is now, owning the majority does not actually give the majority the ability to do too much, although I suppose it would prevent the Democrats from investigating the White House. But it is difficult to believe the Republicans are willing to go down with the White House's ship at this point.

What difference would it make if Lieberman switched? I mean that earnestly - we could probably expect a similar voting pattern from him either way, so what would result from the formal change?

"Actually, I think Nixon, who was vice-president for the 83rd, said it would be unconstitutional to reorganzie the senate."

Are using that as its evidence of reorganization's constitutionality, or unconstitutionality?

"Could it be filibustered? I don't see why not."

Hard to say. But that's a question quite different from the question of whether the existence of those three resolutions prohibits it.

"It occured to me that the Republicans could theoretically use the so-called 'nuclear option' to regain control of the Senate, but that seems a remarkably short-sighted move."

The "nuclear option" -- which was to change the Senate Rules -- was an option because they were in the majority. As this is no longer the case, they can't use the "nuclear option" to put themselves into the majority.

These speculations assume a 50-50 split if Lieberman switches parties.

But one of the Democrats' 50 is Senator Johnson, who is still convalescing, possibly still in the hospital. I'm not sure he's up to being carried into the Senate for procedural votes; I'm pretty sure it would be a bad idea medically.

That gives the Democrats 49, not 50.

yes -- this made me feel better too. let him go -- good riddance too. adam and others are right though the gop could in theory pull the nuclear option option. but to that i say - bring it on. i think the filibuster makes sense in the judicial context given the life appointments, but i really don't see how it's justified in other contexts. with the 2008 senate elections looking favorably, i don't think it would be the worst thing in the world if the gop killed the filibuster in exchange for 18 months of control

and not that this matters i guess, but i think it makes sense as a matter of policy to have stable control for 2 years, regardless of party. for one, it avoids the obvious problems of staff changeover, etc.. second, it prevents people like lieberman from using the threat to upend the entire senate as leverage is legislative debates.

Johnson is very close to being able to be wheeled in for procedural votes. He's reading memos in the rehab facility, and has re-activated his campaign committee for re-election.

And I, for one, would welcome Susan Collins to the Democratic caucus; it would make her re-election much easier. Lincoln Chafee probably wishes he had switched before beginning his last campaign.

Collins had a wry moment in December on C-SPAN, announcing a bill with her co-sponsors, Feingold and Lieberman. She said, "It's the first tri-partisan legislation of the new Congress" and shot a little look at Lieberman; Feingold broke up laughing.

I thought then that it might be a tiny, ladylike shot over the bow: you so much as think about joining the GOP and I'm gone, buddy.

Publius, some things never change -- I'm going to buy you a shift key for Christmas.

Sorry to go off topic, but if anyone needs a lift and the end of the day, Scott Horton of Balkinization alerted me to this movie coming out, well, today. The site did my spirit good.

Amazing Grace

I knew it was coming, but I thought the movie was about Newton, the slave trader turned pastor who wrote the lyrics. The movie is actually about William Wilberforce, which somehow just feels completely right.

I don't know, rules don't have such a great track record against these jokers.

Gary, I'm not sure I follow you. The whole point is that the constitutional option would be employed only if Lieberman switched, putting Republicans in the majority.

But Publius is right to note that longer-term interests truly will control ... which is why the Democrats wouldn't filibuster the rules change. The party would never, ever support the creation of a precedent by which the minority would filibuster a committee assignment resolution. (Even Trent Lott backed away from the ledge on that one years ago.)

I am not sure where I read it, but I came across something earlier discussing this with which I wholeheartedly agree. Essentially it argued that this would not happen because the only way the narcissist JL can keep himself relevant is by constantly threatening to leave. Actually following through and leaving would only hasten his irrelevancy, most especially since Democrats are likely to gain a couple of Senate seats in '08. Essentially, by switching, Joe would be giving up the only real relevance he has, which is as the always contrary Democrat, to join a party that will very probably be in the minority for at least a few years. Doesn't seem something he is likely to do. I think he would much rather stick around as long as he can keep pissing us hippies off.

joe needs to be goaded into flipping.
i think there are one or two republicans who will jeffords him into obscurity
his ego might overrule his judgment.

go joe ! go!

I don't think the GOP can "trust" all its senators to vote along party lines, if the leadership tries to go nuclear on this topic.
Going nuclear at all will not get them additional popularity and one blowing up in their face (with 1 dissenting vote being enough) even less.

If Lieberman switches, Republicans will have the majority, they just won't have the "majority". However, you have to have the "majority" to exercise the nuclear option, so they lost that power last November. Only Democrats can exercise that option now, and they're not going to if they don't have a real majority.

So it's ideal from two perspectives:

1. It makes the Republicans that much more effective at filibustering.

and,

2 The Democrats don't dare abolish the filibuster when they risk losing straight majority votes.

I foresee the Republicans blocking a LOT of bad legislation, which is about the only thing they're actually any good for, anyway.

Are we sure that the Senate Organizing Resolution can be overturned by a simple majority?

In Roberts' Rules (which the Senate does not follow), any change to rules already agreed to require a 2/3 vote. Any change in the rules of debate (like invoking cloture) require a 2/3 vote.

Some things in the Senate, like cloture, require a vote of 60, not 51. I would think that rules changes past the initial setting of the rules for the term would probably require more than a simple majority.

(Yes, I know the Senate is a continuing body, but clearly they set some things out anew every two years).

But it is difficult to believe the Republicans are willing to go down with the White House's ship at this point.

I believe they are too busy punching holes in the hull.

I foresee the Republicans blocking a LOT of bad legislation, which is about the only thing they're actually any good for, anyway. [Brett Bellmore]

From other people's point of view (including mine) the bad legislation will be about the only thing they won't block but we both know that we have fundamentally different views on what constitutes bad legislation (on average; I assume you are against the manadatory pet microwaving act too)

As unhappy as I am with some of Lieberman's doings, and his hints of defection, I'd much prefer he didn't switch, and I don't think he will, at least not until 2009.

Organizing resolutions and such notwithstanding, there would be tremendous pressure of all sorts on the Senate to reorganize, as well as, I suspect, other parliamentary complexities, and where that ends up is far from clear. Letting sleeping dogs lie looks like the better policy to me.

But I doubt he will switch, for reasons mentioned by others. Preserving his options gives him more power than switching would. (Isn't there a chess maxim that says the existence of a threat may be more powerful than its execution?). By waiting for 2009 he guarantees that he will be in the majority then, and if the Senate ends up 50-50 he hits the jackpot without having to worry about procedural complexities.

In relation to Bob's off-topic, you can find a very nice BBC radio show on the events behind Amazing Grace here. As slolernr says, makes you think much better of Hague (especially considering what Blair's been up to).

On topicish, I'm pretty sure Brett Bellmore is right about the nuclear option -- it would've started with a ruling by somebody or other who had to be in the "majority." And I also think it doesn't apply if the new organizing resolution can't make it out of the Rules Committee.

Bernard, I'd think there'd be pressure to reorganize from the usual idiots. But I'm not so sure that there'd be pressure to reorganize from anyone who isn't serving GOP interests. (Which on many days is a lot of the media.) The Senate itself would still be evenly split, and Lieberman would've blatantly violated his pledge to caucus with the Democrats -- this could provide the basis for a lot of pushback against any pressure to reorganize.

An interesting question to me is, what would happen to Lieberman's committee chairmanship? Would the Democratic majority caucus have the unilateral power to strip him and appoint a successor? That wasn't clear to me from the organizing resolution.

I'd think there'd be pressure to reorganize from the usual idiots. But I'm not so sure that there'd be pressure to reorganize from anyone who isn't serving GOP interests.

Matt,

True, but that might be enough.

From Huckleberry Finn:

"Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?"

"Organizing resolutions and such notwithstanding, there would be tremendous pressure of all sorts on the Senate to reorganize, as well as, I suspect, other parliamentary complexities, and where that ends up is far from clear." ...BY

One thing I believe about the US Senate. Never underestimate the powers of personal animosity or the importance of pretended attempts at comity. Is that two things? Ben Nelson lunches with Brownback, the jerks, and will try to play nice.

If Lieberman switches, the organizing resolutions will be changed.

Could Joe be caned to a pulp on the floor of the Senate? Is that still legal?

What if the Repubs filibustered everything & spun it as "the bad Dems lost their majority & now won't play fair"?

Whose line would the media follow? Was your first guess "the Dems'"? Try again.

"Is that still legal?"

The question may not pass the posting rules.

Which I cross posted over at MyLeftnutmeg.com. We in Connecticut are very, very, very appreciative of your research, Hilzoy.
Sue
Secretary, Connecticut for Lieberman Party

http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=5974

Our letter to Senator Lieberman:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/1/30/62651/3596

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