Senate Republicans on Thursday morning filibustered legislation to monitor and treat first responders and emergency workers who suffered illnesses related to 9/11.
A vote to quash the filibuster failed by a vote of 57 to 42, three votes short of the necessary threshold. As a result, the proposal is unlikely to pass this year.
The bill would provide funding for a health program to treat first responders, construction and cleanup workers and residents who inhaled toxic particles after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
The $7.4 billion cost of the legislation over 10 years is paid for by a provision that would prevent foreign multinational corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes on U.S. income.
Republicans complained that the $7.4 billion price tag was too high
We're left with three studies that vary slightly but which all point in the same general direction -- showing the top 1 percent earning between 21.4 and 23.5 percent of the national income in 2007. The studies also show that this share exceeds what the entire bottom 50 percent of the United States earns. So we rate Sanders' statement True.
Although Art. I, § 5, cl. 2 of the Constitution grants each house the authority to “Determine the Rules of its Proceedings,” this rule-making authority is not absolute or unlimited, and cannot be used to violate other provisions of the Constitution.
No one would argue, for example, that a majority of senators could adopt a rule that stated that no treaty could be ratified without a 3/4ths vote of the Senate instead of the 2/3rds vote specified in Art. II, § 2, cl. 2, or to adopt a rule prior to the impeachment trials of Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton that reduced the number of votes in the Senate required for a conviction from the 2/3rds specified in Article I, § 3, cl. 5, to a vote of simple majority, or to adopt a rule that stated expressly that no bill could be sent to the House or presented to the President without 60 votes instead of a vote of the simple majority. And if the Senate cannot adopt a rule that repeals or supersedes the majority vote provision in Art. I, § 7 directly, surely the Senate cannot accomplish the same result indirectly by adopting a cloture rule that has the same practical effect.
Unlike the Rules of the House of Representatives that expire at the end of each term of Congress and must be readopted by the House when each new Congress convenes, Senate Rule V declares that: “The rules of the Senate shall continue from one Congress to the next Congress unless they are changed as provided in these rules.”
Debate on a matter in the Senate, including a proposed amendment to Rule XXII, cannot begin over the objections of a single senator without the adoption of a motion to proceed under Rule VIII, which is a debatable motion and can be blocked by a filibuster. Moreover, Rule XXII provides that a vote on a motion for cloture of debate on a “motion to amend the Senate rules” is not “three-fifths of the senators chosen and sworn,” as is the case with other cloture motions, but requires an “affirmative vote … [of] two-thirds of the Senate present and voting.” The combination of these three rules means that debate on a motion to amend the Senate filibuster rule cannot begin without a motion to proceed under Rule VIII, which, if objected to, requires 60 votes, and a motion for cloture of the substantive debate on a motion to amend the rules of the Senate cannot be brought to an end without 67 affirmative votes (assuming all 100 members of the Senate are present) – the same number of votes in the Senate that would be required to approve an amendment to the Constitution.
Whether the Senate is “a continuing body” as stated in Rule V has been disputed within the Senate for at least 50 years, and is seriously open to question. If the Senate were really a continuing body, (1) legislation that passed by the house and pending in the Senate would not die at the end of each term of Congress; (2) nor would the Senate hold a new election of majority and minority leaders at the commencement of each new Congress. The old leadership would hold over and continue just as the rules are claimed to do. Moreover, as a matter of practice, the majority leader of the Senate asks the Senate at the beginning of each new Congress to adopt the existing Senate rules by unanimous consent. These three facts are incompatible with the notion that the Senate is a continuing body, notwithstanding the fact that a third of its members must stand for election every two years.
The issue of whether the Senate is a “continuing body” is, however, beside the point. Rule V would be inconsequential but for the provisions in Rule XXII prohibiting cloture on proposed amendments to the Senate rules without a 2/3rds vote. There would be no constitutional objection to Rule V if a majority of senators had the power to amend the rules without being filibustered. Rule V would then be nothing more than a default provision – a convenient way of making it unnecessary for the Senate to adopt a whole new set of rules when it first convenes in January of every odd numbered year, but without preventing a majority in the Senate from amending the rules when the occasion required.
I think this a net plus. And you know how I feel, I think the people that benefit most should pay most. That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons, for reasons of fairness and rebuilding the middle class in America. But we have the distribution of authority we have now in the congress, and the one we're gonna have in January. And I think this is a much much better agreement than would be reached were we to wait until January, and I think it will have a much more positive agreement on the economy. So for whatever it's worth, that's what I think."
Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Tuesday he would join a Republican filibuster to block the final vote on any health care bill that has a government-run public health insurance option. Lieberman's vote is crucial to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hopes of passing a health care bill that includes the controversial public option. Lieberman said he would support a vote to launch debate on the health care bill but would oppose a motion to end debate if the public option remains in the legislation. Democrats would need 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to close debate on the bill, and the Democratic caucus has 60 members, including Lieberman.
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