I think we can all agree that a Wyomingite should have 65 times more Senate representation per capita than a Californian — it’s in the Constitution and that’s not going to change.
We are not a majority rule country. Ask Gore. Ask Clinton.
But just as the National Popular Vote initiative is a practical workaround to the Electoral College problem (see where it stands in each state) — and ditching the Hastert Rule would help in the House — so esteemed reader Jim Burt may have come up with a practical workaround to edge us at least a little closer to majority rule in the Senate.
Right now, senators representing just 15% of the country can keep a bill from coming to the Senate floor. (Realistically, it would be higher because not all low-population states are politically aligned; but mathematically, it’s 15%.)
Sixty votes are required for “cloture.” That’s not in the Constitution, it’s just the current Senate rule. The Senate can change it.
What if instead of requiring 60 votes, Jim asks, cloture could be invoked by senators representing 60% of the U.S. population? Or, for that matter, 50%?
Wyomingites and Alaskans would still have vastly more power per capita than Californians and New Yorkers when a bill came to the Senate floor for a vote. But at least that extra power would not be amplified by the filibuster.
“Of course,” Jim writes, “if Democrats imposed this rules change after taking control of the Senate, the Republicans would just eliminate it when they regained a majority. The key point in that case would be to ballyhoo yet another instance of the Republicans striking down majority rule. This would be a small gain, but it might set a precedent in favor of majority rule, and doesn’t even require a presidential signature – just a Senate majority, which we can hope to see for Democrats in 2021.”
What do you think?
By the way? Kavanaugh was nominated by a president elected with 46% of the popular vote and confirmed by Senators representing 44% of the country.
Speaking of which . . . President Obama was elected and re-elected with well over 50% of the vote. In preventing him from filling Anthony Kennedy’s seat, Republicans cited “the Biden rule.” But did you know they were taking Biden’s remarks out of context? That Biden said he would support a moderate end-of-term nomination? Click here for the full story, halfway down: “Fact-Checking the Biden Rule.”
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