Harkin Floats Breaking GOP Filibuster by Attrition


This from Tom Harkin is going to be music to a lot of people’s ears:

“If the Republicans want to stay here this Saturday and Sunday to read the bill, then let them stay here,” Harkin said, adding that Democrats would hold a “live quorum,” where the sergeant at arms requests the presence of all absent senators.

“I’ll tell you, we’re going to do something like that,” Harkin said. “We are planning to do something that would require Republicans to be there 24 hours a day, and if they leave the floor, we’ll ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, and that’ll be the end of it.”

I’ll believe this when I see it. Breaking a filibuster via attrition is more difficult than is generally realized. The minority needs to have at least one guy available at all times to hold the floor and keep talking. The majority, meanwhile, needs to have basically all its guys on hand at all times. Otherwise, the minority can “note the absence of a quorum” and everything stops until everyone can be dragged into the chamber. It’s a bigger pain, in other words, for the majority than for the minority which is why you generally don’t see it attempted.