Heritage Foundation president and former senator Jim DeMint defended Senator Ted Cruz’s brief filibuster this week that forced a 60-vote threshold to raise the debt ceiling, requiring Republican votes to do so.
DeMint argued Cruz was merely holding to normal procedure: ”The normal rule is you take 60 votes to move to a final vote, [which] they call cloture. I think that several members, including Ted Cruz, were simply asking, ‘Let’s keep the normal rules here.’ And that didn’t suit some folks.”
“The reason there’s a 60-vote rule in the Senate, and the reason Republican leadership fought so hard to keep it for nominations, is it requires some bipartisan working-together to pass something,” DeMint said. “The debt limit and just giving the president a blank check is an important vote, and to say we’re going to waive the rules to make it easier — if Ted Cruz hadn’t required standard procedure, there are several others [Republican senators] who would.”
Cruz’s decision to require what DeMint said was normal order angered a number of Republicans, since it meant that a number of Republican senators would then have to vote for ending debate on the debt limit, instead of moving to a simple majority vote where only Democratic senators would need to approve of the measure.
Most Senate motions, however, go to a simple majority vote, without cloture being invoked. For a variety of reasons, cloture is an increasingly common way to end debate. But as long as no senator wants to continue the debate, cloture and its 60-vote threshold aren’t necessary, so Cruz’s measure was not necessarily a maintenance of “normal order.”