Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why Be Afraid of a GOP Filibuster, Senator Reid?

So, as you've all seen, today brings the not entirely unexpected news that the House's minimum wage bill met with some resistance on the floor of the U.S. Senate and will not pass in its current form.

As the CNN article says,

Democrats' promise of a quick increase in the minimum wage ran aground Wednesday in the Senate, where lawmakers are insisting it include new tax breaks for restaurants and other businesses that rely on low-pay workers.

On a 54-43 vote, proponents lost an effort to advance a House-passed bill that would lift the pay floor from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour without any accompanying tax cut. Opponents of the tax cut needed 60 votes to prevail.

My question is...why?

The simplistic answer, of course, is that 60 votes are needed to reach what is known as cloture: an end to debate on the bill in question so that it can come to a vote on the floor. Without cloture, the opposing party (in this case, the Republicans) can threaten to filibuster the bill, thereby essentially shutting down the legislative process. Since filibusters are unseemly ordeals that prevent the People's business from being taken care of, traditional Senate decorum states that one doesn't send a bill to the floor without getting cloture on that bill first.

Now, most of the people who care enough to be reading this right now are implicitly aware of all this. But I wonder if many of you have considered the implications of it.

The Democratic Party is assuming that it must swallow the poison pills of accompanying tax breaks because it cannot get cloture on Minimum Wage. Harry Reid, as the article says, scheduled the cloture vote on the Senate floor today to demonstrate to Pelosi and Rangel that there was "inadequate support" for the minimum wage bill without the tax cuts. I call bullshit on that.

As much as I would like to see the rest of Pelosi's 100 hours agenda come before a Senate vote as soon as possible, I cannot think of any political theater more advantageous to Democrats than watching the GOP attempt to filibuster a minimum wage increase. Especially when the cloture margin is as slim as six measly votes.

Remember, if you will, the polling on the minimum wage: 81% popular support, with a full 66% of self-described conservatives! Filibustering this thing would be nothing short of political suicide for the GOP.

Me, I'm not afraid. I have absolutely no problem with watching the GOP bring Speaker Pelosi's incredibly popular 100 hours legislation to a dead halt in the Senate by filibustering the one most popular piece of that agenda.

I have absolutely no problem with letting the month's entire bitter partisan discourse be about nothing BUT the minimum wage.

I say, "Bring it On." Bring this bill to the floor, Mr. Reid. Bring on the filibuster, Republicans. And let's allow the chips to fall where they may.

I'm not afraid. Why is Senator Reid?


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