The PoliBlog

The Collective
Sunday, February 18, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT: Senate Rejects Renewed Effort to Debate Iraq:

The Senate on Saturday narrowly rejected an effort to force debate on a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, but Republican defections emboldened Democrats to promise new attempts to influence the administration’s war policy.

The 56-to-34 vote in a rare Saturday session was the second time Republicans were able to deny opponents of the troop increase a debate on a resolution challenging Mr. Bush, and it came just a day after the House formally opposed his plan to increase the military presence in Iraq.


Without 60 votes for the procedural motion, the Senate was unable to start debate. It was an outcome that left Democrats accusing Republicans of ducking a vote directly opposing Mr. Bush’s policy, even though many of the Republicans had significant reservations about the conduct of the war and concerns for the political repercussions.

(For a discussion of the “debate” debate go here, here and here).

Again, the relative ease by which the House Democrats were able to pass their resolution and the continued stalemate in the Senate is a direct reflection of the internal rules of the two chambers, and specifically the degree to which the majority has control of the chamber, as is the case in the House, or has to operate in a context requiring compromise, as is the case in the Senate.

This current scenario underscores why being Senate Majority Leader is a lousy place to launch a presidential bid (as I have noted in the past) and why the ideologues in a given party are destined to be to dissappointed by the Senate, and, by extension, the Congress as a whole. (The days depicted by this classic image, are loooong gone).

Here are the Reps who voted with the majority:

The Republicans who broke ranks were Senators John W. Warner of Virginia, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

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Filed under: Iraq, US Politics | |


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    1. There’s Norm!!!

      I’m unable to understand why a qualified majority is necessary to debate a given motion. Although it would certainly be necessary to have some sort of quorum to present a motion before the Senate, I would have thought that, for example, 20 senators backing a motion would mean that it should be worthwhile debating. Otherwise we get a “dictatorship by the majority” and/or the danger that certain subjects never get discussed…

      Comment by James — Sunday, February 18, 2024 @ 5:31 pm

    2. I guess the simple answer is “that’s the way the internal rules of the chamber are constructed.”

      Of course, whether that is a good thing or not is another issue.

      Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, February 18, 2024 @ 6:03 pm

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