Thursday, March 18, 2010

Analysis: Republicans setting filibuster record

Associated Press Writer

updated 10:41 a.m. ET, Mon., March. 1, 2010
WASHINGTON - The filibuster — tool of obstruction in the U.S. Senate — is alternately blamed and praised for wilting President Barack Obama's ambitious agenda. Some even say it's made the nation ungovernable.

Maybe, maybe not. Obama's term still has three years to run.

More certain, however: Opposition Republicans are using the delaying tactic at a record-setting pace.

"The numbers are astonishing in this Congress," says Jim Riddlesperger, political science professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

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A tactic unique to the Senate, the filibuster means a simple majority guarantees nothing when it comes to passing laws.

"The rules of the Senate are designed to give muscle to the minority," said Senate historian Donald Ritchie.

With the Senate now made up of 100 members, two for each of the 50 states, an opposition filibuster can only be broken with 60 votes — a three-fifths majority.

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In this session of Congress, the 111th — for all of 2009 and the first two months of 2010 — the number already exceeds 40. (2.857/mo) Continuing at this rate, it will be 68 times during this session.

The most the Democrats have ever use the filibuster was 58 times in the 106th Congress of 1999-2000. (2.417/mo)


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