Saturday, April 14, 2012

A(nother) GOP Lie

"He had a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate for his first two years," Romney said of Obama.

Politicians running for national office should know better than that.

Grade schoolers know better than that.

Anyone who ever watched Schoolhouse Rock knows better than that.

Remember this little fellow?

Let's review - a bill has to go through the House, then the Senate, before the President can sign it.

In the House, a bill needs a simple majority to pass.

In the Senate, a bill has to meet two hurdles: the Senate has to agree to end debate, and then they can vote on the bill. That's where the filibuster and cloture motions come in.

This op-ed piece in the New York Times describes the current state of the Senate perfectly:

Before 1975, it took two-thirds of the Senate to end a filibuster, but it was the "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" filibuster: if senators wanted to stop a vote, they had to bring in the cots and the coffee and read from Grandma’s recipe for chicken soup until, unshaven, they keeled over from their own rhetorical exhaust.

As revised in 1975, Senate Rule 22 seemed to be an improvement: it required 60 senators, not 67, to stop floor debate. But there also came a significant change in de facto Senate practice: to maintain a filibuster, senators no longer had to keep talking. Nowadays, they don’t even have to start; they just say they will, and that’s enough. Senators need not be on the floor at all. They can be at home watching Jimmy Stewart on cable. Senate Rule 22 now exists to cut off what are ghost filibusters, disembodied debates.

All it takes to stop a bill is 41 Senators.

Why is this important? Because of one man: Scott Brown, Senator from Governor Romney's Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he took notice when he heard that Brown was signing autographs "41".

"This is a man who understands how the Senate operates," McConnell said. (source)

Scott Brown became the "41st Senator" when was sworn into office on February 4, 2010.

So, how long did the Democratic Party have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate? Kevin Drum has the answer:

Until Al Franken was sworn in on July 7, the Democratic caucus in the Senate stood at 59. After that it was technically up to 60, but Ted Kennedy hadn't cast a vote in months and was housebound due to illness. He died a few weeks later and was replaced by Paul Kirk on September 24, finally bringing the Democratic majority up to 60 in practice as well as theory. After that the Senate was in session for 11 weeks before taking its winter recess, followed by three weeks until Scott Brown won Kennedy's seat in the Massachusetts special election.

Fourteen weeks. Not the two years that Mitt Romney, Chris Christie and others in the GOP have claimed.

Add this one to the list of zombie lies.


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