Thursday, May 19, 2005

Theocrats vs. The Constitution: Breaking the rules to change the rules 

The details:

Later this week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist plans to file for cloture, or a vote to end the filibuster and proceed to a final vote on Owen's nomination.

• On the second business day after Frist makes his motion, the Senate can vote on his request to end debate. It takes at least 60 of the Senate's 100 members to shut off debate. If, as expected, all 44 Senate Democrats and an independent vote to continue debate, the filibuster continues and no vote occurs on the nomination.

• Frist could seek to change the Senate rules on ending the filibuster, but that requires 67 votes. So Frist would probably try an alternative.

"Try an alternative..." That's rich. Try an alternative to following the rules (as upheld by the Senate Parliamentarian).

• Vice President Cheney, as president of the Senate, would exercise his option to chair the chamber. Frist would ask him to rule on a motion that debate on judicial nominations can be ended by a simple majority, or 51 votes. Cheney would rule in Frist's favor and Democrats would appeal. Republicans would move to table, or kill, the appeal. The tabling motion could be approved with 51 votes, and the filibuster of judicial nominations would be effectively banned. There are 55 Republican senators. If the vote is 50-50, Cheney breaks the tie.
(via USA Today)

So reading this, what I wonder is why the heck Frist is going to wait two business days? Since Cheney will rule in his favor no matter what, why putz around? Why not change the rules to break the rule on waiting two business days too while they're at it?

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