Watercooler 07/22/17 Open Thread: Last Week, RedState - The Senate Filibuster, Senate Rule XIX, and Trump


Welcome to today’s edition of Watercooler: Last Week, RedState.   This WC is all about Posts, Reader’s Diaries, and comments at RedState.

Hot Topics Last Week:


There was a lot of activity last week at RedState, I’m going to focus on only one topic this week, the failure to repeal Obamacare and the President’s tweets to abolish the Senate filibuster.  Yesterday Trump called for the killing of the Senate filibuster for legislative actions, the filibuster was nuked for the SC earlier in the year!

Recurring Topics at RS:

The Senate Filibuster: The filibuster is back in the news, at least as an excuse in the latest failure theater associated with repealing the obamination we call Obamacare. Because this topic comes up over and over and over again, I’m going to expand this section today.

There are quite a few people that see the issue of Senate filibuster for what it is, a canard designed to throw us off from finding some way within the Senate Rules to neutralize the Democratic tactics.  That canard also provides cover for the GOPe’s statist tendencies towards bigger, more intrusion of the government into the lives of the citizens of this country.

Earlier this week Niel covered a sure-fire path to do it without 60 votes, an existing Senate rule, Rule XIX, often called the two-speech rule: This Senate Rule Ensures Any Obamacare Filibuster Can Be Beaten!  I had covered the same rule with regard to the Supreme Court filibuster back in February here: An Intriguing Alternative to the Senate Nuclear Option!  The full Federalist article on the two-speech rule is here Here’s How Republicans Can Confirm Supreme Court Nominees Without The Nuclear Option!


I’ll quote liberally from extracts found in my article quoting The Federalist’s piece below (I know, a bit tortured, right?).

What exactly is the rule?

Rule XIX of the Standing Rules of the Senate plainly states that on any given question, a senator may speak only twice on the same legislative day. This clause is known in Senate parlance as the two-speech rule. No senator may speak more than two times on the same matter on the same legislative day. Here’s the relevant text from the rule:

1. (a) When a Senator desires to speak, he shall rise and address the Presiding Officer, and shall not proceed until he is recognized, and the Presiding Officer shall recognize the Senator who shall first address him.

The key here is that a legislative day ends when the party in control, says it ends and not when the sun sets and rises again!  You’ll notice below that the legislative ‘day’ spanned 81 calendar days.

What is the real difference between the two-speech rule and the filibuster? 

[With the filibuster rules] It is assumed that debate on these nominations must continue in the Senate until 60 senators agree that the debate is over.  … The modern practice of allowing 41 senators to indefinitely obstruct up-or-down votes under the guise of debate is just that: a mere practice, indulged by courtesy.

[With Rule XIX] A final up-or-down vote is guaranteed!  In simple terms, it means that once each senator has spoken twice on a matter, debate on that matter is concluded no matter what.


Isn’t this just some obscure rule that isn’t really used?  Again from the original article:

They Did This to Pass the Civil Rights Act

As political science professor Nina M. Moore noted in her book “Governing Race: Policy, Process, and the Politics of Race,”Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield kept the Senate on the same legislative day for 81 calendar days, from March 30 to June 19, to enforce the two-speech rule to break the filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But, won’t the Democrats just obstruct like usual?  If they could they likely would but it’s actually about wearing out the opposition, two observations from the article:

Seriously, Nobody’s Got Stamina to Make This Last Long

As a result, the Senate could conduct its legislative business during the day and confine debate over the pending presidential nomination to the wee hours of the night.

The side benefit of using Rule XIX is:

Thus, not only would the Senate be able to dual-track its legislative and executive business, Senate Republicans would also have the power to force Senate Democrats to make their speeches in the middle of the night when nobody is watching. This would deprive Democrats of media oxygen for their arguments and tire them out over time, as there is often little desire among older senators to futilely rant at the C-SPAN cameras at three in the morning.

Lest We Forget the Sneak Attack:


Enforcing the two-speech rule would thus turn current practice on its head and force obstructing senators to do all the work to maintain the filibuster. It would require them [Democrats] to monitor the floor 24/7 for days and weeks on end to continue the debate. Even if they could muster that kind of stamina and coordination, there would still be a vote once each opposing senator had spoken twice. If opposing senators were to let their guard down even for a minute, the majority could move to end debate and force a final vote. Either way, a final up-or-down vote is guaranteed. The only question is how much pain the obstructing senators wish to inflict on themselves before that happens.

The bottom line is that the Senate rules already are in place to do it with less than 60, the GOP leadership would rather have drama theater than fulfill their promises to the electorate to repeal this Obamination.

More on this from Politico:

Reeling Democrats confront brutal 2018 Senate map: A filibuster-proof majority isn’t out of the question if things break right for the GOP.

Democrats already are grappling with how to defend 10 senators up for reelection in 2018 in states that Donald Trump carried, some resoundingly. Republicans are targeting a quintet of senators from conservative states where Trump walloped Hillary Clinton: Montana, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia.



What if we just shot for 60 GOP Senators in 2018?  The comments on this topic can be helpful. 

We could do that but even if we got to 60 those ones we do have that won’t back the repeal means that, in fact, we’d need 63 or 64 or 65 if we’re shooting for getting by the filibuster. But, with the 2-speech rule, we would likely get the 51 votes in favor of repeal with only 55 or 56 GOP Senators. Since it would mean picking up 13 of the 24 Democratic seats, the 65 GOP Senators goal is unrealistic.

But, and I think this is important, focusing on overcoming the filibuster is just another GOPe technique to take the country’s focus off of what the GOP could do now, i.e. use the 2-speech rule that would ultimately result in repeal if they could get the 51 votes in favor of its repeal.

Given the number of Democratic Senators up for re-election, i.e. a 4-6 GOP Senate gain goal is almost a certainty, and the 2-speech rule would result in repeal soon after the election. It is a possibility to repeal before the election if the right conditions unfold.  But, if they wait to go the 2-speech route until, well right now it appears to be NEVER, then the chances of it working are zero.

Some in the RedState community are mad at the ‘RINOs’ in the GOP that publicly went back on their promise to repeal Obamacare and want to primary these scallywags!

But, like I said in the comments:


Take out Heller or any other RINO, they deserves it, but like I’ve said elsewhere, if the GOP Senate starts to use the Senate’s 2-speech rule rather than trying to avoid the filibuster on this issue sooner rather than later (that may be problematic in, and of, itself), we really only need to get enough new Senators to make it to the 51 count. My guess would be that it’d have to be 57 or 58 in total! Rally around the repeal banner and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle!

Memorable RedState One-Liners:

It’s important to keep an open mind – but not so open that your brains tumble out. – Houdini1984

That’s what screen doors are for!  – Donnybrooke, in response to the above.


Drink up, that’s it for the Watercooler today. Remember, it’s an open thread all about RedState contributors from the front page, Reader’s Diaries, or in the comments section.


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