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Monday, December 29, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Nate Silver asks Like Smaller Government? How About 98 Senators?

Nate notes that it appears quite likely that we will start the 111th Congress with a slightly smaller Senate, at least temporarily due to the only unknown that is the Minnesota seat and the fact that Blagojevich isn’t likely to be filling Obama’s seat any time soon.

So, not only will it be like we lost a state for a little while, but it should also have a key procedural effect:

One interesting application of this is that I believe it will temporarily only require 59 votes to break a filibuster. The Rules of the Senate declare that a cloture motion can pass with “three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn”. From the Senate’s perspective, a senator will have been neither chosen or sworn in Minnesota — nor in Illinois, unless the state gets its act together fast. And three-fifths of 98 is 59 rather than 60.

Seems likely to me that this will be the case as well. Interesting, in any event.

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2 Responses to “The 98”

  1. Don Says:

    Senate rules can be changed by the majority party. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Democrats change the rule in the next session to where it would take only 50 votes to stop a filibuster.

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    This is rather unlikely, and not as straightforward as it sounds. Remember the whole “nuclear option” bit when the Reps threatened to change the rule?


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