Saw this Op-Ed in the New York Times suggesting Harry Reid call Republicans on their filibuster bluff. The author, David RePass, argues correctly that the founding fathers never intended a Senate supermajority be requisite for passing standard legislation. Quite right, but there’s a slight procedural problem with the “call the bluff” tactic.
Reid’s office has studied the history of the filibuster and analyzed what options are available. The resulting memo was provided to the Huffington Post and it concludes that a filibustering Senator “can be forced to sit on the [Senate] floor to keep us from voting on that legislation for a finite period of time according to existing rules but he/she can’t be forced to keep talking for an indefinite period of time.”[…]
[…]As both Reid’s memo and Dove explain, only one Republican would need to monitor the Senate floor. If the majority party tried to move to a vote, he could simply say, “I suggest the absence of a quorum.”[…]
[…]”You cannot force senators to talk during a filibuster,” says Dove. “Delay in the Senate is not difficult and, frankly, the only way to end it is through cloture.”
Simply put, forcing Republicans to actually filibuster would not result (necessarily, anyhow) in Republicans to “show voters that they oppose Mr. Obama’s initiatives,” as DePass argues. Rather, it would just force them to show voters on C-SPAN that quorum was unmet. Instead, we should just abolish the filibuster.