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Enraged by the FIlibuster


E. J. Dionne Jr. today:

Of course what has happened on the health-care bill is enraging. It’s quite clear that substantial majorities in both houses of Congress favored either a public option or a Medicare buy-in.

In a normal democracy, such majorities would work their will, a law would pass, and champagne corks would pop. But everyone must get it through their heads that thanks to the bizarre habits of the Senate, we are no longer a normal democracy.

Because of a front of Republican obstruction and the ludicrous idea that all legislation requires a supermajority of 60 votes, power has passed from the majority to tiny minorities, sometimes minorities of one.

If legislation required 51 senators’ votes to pass, that 51st senator would be in a position to be “a minority of one.” But leave that aside. If you’re willing to have a system in which filibusters and supermajority rules are ever permitted, isn’t the health-care bill exactly the type of legislation to which you’d want them to apply? It would be decidedly odd to say that it should take 60 votes to get a judge on an appeals court but only 51 to remake American health care.


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