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August 02, 2010

Comments

Is this another thread where you ignore that filibusters can be done by one guy doing endless quorum calls?

Moreover, this shows exactly why filibusters are much harder on the majority. The minority gets to do things like travel back home to their district, fundraise, etc. The majority gets to sit in the senate chambers.

"Is this another thread where you ignore that filibusters can be done by one guy doing endless quorum calls?"

They still can't. Just like last time. Once you've made the quorum call, something has to change before the next one. A new person has to be recognized by the chair, a new vote has to be brought, something new has to happen.

There isn't actually a situation where in order business goes:

1) Quorum Call.
2) Quorum counted.
3) Quorum Call.

What you are *probably* complaining about is that when a new speaker is recognized, he can ask for a quorum call.

So the order of business can go:

1) call for a vote
2) obstructing Senator starts to filibuster by asking for a quorum call before speaking
2a) quorum is noted
3) he speaks
4) he finishes speaking
5) call for vote
6) quorum call
6a) quorum is noted
7) a Senator can now try to go back to 2 so long as he hasn't already spoken once before
8) vote commences.

And frankly I don't care that filibusters are 'much harder on the majority' when *harder on the majority* means that they have to spend 5 whole days in a row doing their job. It isn't as if you are using it to mean: because it violates the laws of physics. That would be hard. It isn't even because you mean that it would involve doing things that are normally beyond the capability of most human beings--like running a four minute mile at age 50. That would be hard.

'Harder' and 'hard' are not the same thing.

But quorum calls don't count against your turn to speak, and when a quorum count finishes, the floor is not returned to the person who called for the quorum count. People more knowledgeable than you have looked into this (ie the ex-senate parliamentarian) and concluded you are wrong.

Again, the best option isn't to make the senate even slower to work through its agenda, its to remove these excessive veto points.

They only run for re-election *every six years*. Why are they fund-raising like crazy the other five?

"But quorum calls don't count against your turn to speak, and when a quorum count finishes, the floor is not returned to the person who called for the quorum count. People more knowledgeable than you have looked into this (ie the ex-senate parliamentarian) and concluded you are wrong."

I'm not aware of parliamentarian ruling or analysis which even remotely suggests that rolling quorum calls are permissible. I have seen complaints that a quorum has to be maintained during an attempt to kill a filibuster. That is certainly true.

I have seen complaints that maintaining a quorum is a pain. Until they bother trying, I'd call those complaints whiny.

I have not seen a suggestion that you can indefinitely stop business by constantly maintaining quorum calls.

I'm hesitant to suggest that the proposition is illogical, as so much about the Senate is illogical. But if it were true, all of the other propositions to kill the filibuster are also worthless. If it really the case that quorum calls on their own, can be made serially and unendingly, filibuster reform along the lines discussed elsewhere are also useless because in order to frustrate a vote you could just have a Senator ask for a quorum count again and again and again, and you are claiming that is a technique different from the filibuster.

Quorum calls are to confirm that there are enough members present to conduct the next step that you are contemplating. Once that is confirmed, you can go on to the next step. An immediate following quorum call is out of order. You can call for a quorum each time a new person wants to speak (and the speaker himself doesn't have to be the one to call for the quorum). But once it is established the next step proceeds.

So again. To break a filibuster through attrition, yes you have to have to maintain a quorum. No, you don't get to avoid everything else by calling for a quorum every two minutes.

I propose some House member file legislation known as the No Congressman Left Behind Act which mandates a minimum of 230 (four weeks paid vacation plus holidays) days in which Congress MUST be in session or they don't get paid. Let's see the lazy sods vote against it.

Sebastian: "I'm not aware of parliamentarian ruling or analysis which even remotely suggests that rolling quorum calls are permissible."

I assume then you don't accept the findings from this article? (Excerpts below)

Reid's office has studied the history of the filibuster and analyzed what options are available. The resulting memo was provided to the Huffington Post and it concludes that a filibustering Senator "can be forced to sit on the [Senate] floor to keep us from voting on that legislation for a finite period of time according to existing rules but he/she can't be forced to keep talking for an indefinite period of time."

Bob Dove, who worked as a Senate parliamentarian from 1966 until 2001, knows Senate rules as well as anyone on the planet. The Reid analysis, he says, is "exactly correct.

and

As both Reid's memo and Dove explain, only one Republican would need to monitor the Senate floor. If the majority party tried to move to a vote, he could simply say, "I suggest the absence of a quorum."

The presiding officer would then be required to call the roll. When that finished, the Senator could again notice the absence of a quorum and start the process all over. At no point would the obstructing Republican be required to defend his position, read from the phone book or any of the other things people associate with the Hollywood version of a filibuster.

"You cannot force senators to talk during a filibuster," says Dove. "Delay in the Senate is not difficult and, frankly, the only way to end it is through cloture."

The more time they spend away from Washington, the better.

Due to extensive research on the internets, Sebastian obviously has a better grasp of the arcane minutia of Senate procedure than people who have served or worked in the Senate for decades. I

t's not unlike all the geniuses who can spot serious flaws in the work of PhD Climatologists based on deep study of Conservapedia and the right-wing blogosphere.

But if it were true, all of the other propositions to kill the filibuster are also worthless.

You don't listen very much. There's the nuclear option, which basically trashes all the rules mid-session. It would take 51 votes. Arguably its illegal, but its hard to think that a court would hear the case, much less complete a case in time for it to matter.

There's the constitutional option, which changes the rules at the start of the next senate. It also takes 51 votes, but is clearly legal. It isn't filibuster-able, since the rules about the filibuster are not yet instantiated at the start of the new senate.

Anyway, Sebastian, here's how the order would go.

1. Speaker recognizes Republican A.
2. Republican A calls for a quorum call.
3. Quorum is verified, floor returns to speaker.
4. Republican A calls for an adjournment vote (which counts as new business).
5. Adjournment vote taken immediately. Since new business has occurred, a quorum call is again in order.
6. Goto 1.

None of these steps counts against Republican A's right to address the senate twice. Yes, it is stupid, but that's the senate.

They don't have to recognize the call for adjournment until after the obstructing Senator has stepped down from his speech because motions for adjournment are not permitted when another member has the floor.

Motions for adjournment are not in order when the main question is in order (put to vote, see Rule 11.6).

And again, you are looking at it as a legal game, while I am looking at it as political theater.

If Republicans have to move to adjourn 500 times in one day in order to avoid a vote, let them do so and then make a commercial out of it.

I again don't think anyone cares about the game. When the republicans were speaking to delay passage of the unemployment insurance bill, you didn't notice. This goes to the core of your argument.

"So the order of business can go:

1) call for a vote
[many steps omitted]
8) vote commences."

This reminds me of the cartoon which shows a complicated flow chart. Right at the bottom is a box labeled "a miracle occurs."

There are only two ways a bill can come up for a vote in the Senate. One is by unanimous consent. The other is for there to be a successful cloture vote on the bill. So including step 8 implies that you are limiting the discussion to cases where either (1) the Republicans decided not to filibuster, or (2) the Democrats had sufficient votes to win a cloture vote. Republicans have not successfully filibustered a single bill under either of those conditions.

People don't notice on their own. You have to make an intentional political point. Democrats aren't willing to. That is part of the problem.

No, attrition can still end filibusters.

So Sebastian, you disagree with the findings of Bob Dove, who was Senate Parliamentarian?

Look, if people ran for the Senate to show up for work and do it, they'd be putting up more of a fight over rules that allow the leadership to prevent them from knowing what's in the freaking bills when they hold a vote. The Senate is widely viewed among politicians as a kind of pre-retirement retirement, with extensive graft opportunities. Senate seats are valued because they're cushy, not because of the power. (Except as the power is what gets you the graft.)

Any reasoning that starts from the premise that the Senators are willing to show up 5 days a week, and work 8 hour days, is wrong from the start. You might as well expect them to live on their salaries, too, instead of raking in kickbacks and engaging in insider trading...

As far as rolling quorum calls, how many of you have actually watched CSPAN for any extended period? I did, once, while stuck in bed with a broken leg. I never once saw a quorum call go to completion. The only thing I ever saw a quorum call used for was to accomplish a short delay, usually at the desire of the chair, after which it would be canceled partway through the count.

I also noticed that voice votes didn't involve any actual time for people to voice their votes....

Why would people care about one particular obscure parliamentary rule? Wouldn't the better option be to trash all the rules that turn the senate into the place legislation goes to die?

So Sebastian, you disagree with the findings of Bob Dove, who was Senate Parliamentarian?
I too would like an answer to this question. The senate rules are very arcane and I wouldn't trust anyone who claims to know how they work, beyond the few who have studied the who book.

Only they know what exactly are they doing.


Cheers.

Katara

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