After Enthusiastically Using Filibuster, GOP Begs Democrats Not To Filibuster Cut, Cap, And Balance Plan

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)

Since 2009, Senate Republicans have forced virtually every bill to pass the 60-vote cloture threshold before it could come to the floor for actual debate. This unprecedented obstruction forced Senate Democrats to find 60 supporting votes — as opposed to a simple majority of 51 — to pass health care reform, financial regulatory reform, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the economic stimulus package, and nearly every other bill they considered, and killed critical legislation like a climate change bill, immigration reform, and the DREAM Act. In addition, Republicans have successfully filibustered an unheard-of number of judicial and cabinet-level nominees, hindering the efficacy of both branches.

But after they failed to get 60 votes for their Cut, Cap, and Balance plan last week, a group of Senate Republicans is urging Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring it to the floor for debate, thus allowing it to pass with only 51 votes. The senators sent Reid a letter today, obtained by Slate’s Dave Weigel:

We urge Senate Majority Leader Reid to reconsider the tabled bill and let the Senate debate it fully, in full view of the American people — so that it may garner the four or five votes that it needs to pass — and to agree that it should pass without invoking the 60 vote cloture threshold in recognition of the urgency of the matter.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) made the same argument on Fox News this afternoon, saying the bill was only tabled, not defeated, and Reid should bring it to the floor for debate.

The Republican approach ignores numerous obstacles for the bill. If Reid brought it to the floor, it would need to gain five more votes to pass the Senate with just a simple majority. Even if it passed, President Obama has promised to veto it. And even if Obama signed it into law, it would still need approval from two-thirds of both houses of Congress to send the actual Balanced Budget Amendment to the states for ratification. The House passed the bill, but would need roughly 57 more votes to approve the amendment, while the Senate would need to find 21 more votes.

Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), continue to cling to the notion that their radical Balanced Budget Amendment — which would force draconian spending cuts and exacerbate the pain of future recessions — is a serious plan in the search for a debt deal. Even less serious than the actual plan, however, is asking Democrats not to use the very rules that have allowed Republicans to grind the Senate to a halt for the last three years.