Pure Delay

Requiring 60 votes rather than 50 to pass legislation in a body with 100 members is a terrible idea. It’s always been a terrible idea. Nobody would design a legislature that way. But lately, filibustering has been used for even newer and more terrible reasons, like simply slowing bills down to be annoying. For example, Annie Lowrey reviews the Unemployment Insurance aftermath:

Yesterday, Senate Democrats cleared the 60-vote cloture hurdle to restoring federally extended unemployment benefits for 2.6 million American families. The bill needs a final majority-rules Senate vote, a House vote and President Obama’s signature to become law. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, had hoped that Senate Republicans would waive the procedural 30-hour window between the cloture vote and the final vote — giving Democrats consent to move on. The GOP refused.

The practical upshot of this kind of foot-dragging tactic is to make it impossible to staff the executive branch in a timely maner. It also makes it impossible to legislate about important issues through any mechanism other than these lumbering comprehensive packages. Instead of addressing the variety of problems with the financial regulatory architecture through a variety of different bills, it all has to be done through one mega-bill.