It’s Official: Senate Majority Thwarted on Manchin-Toomey

Though one of its authors had already thrown in the towel, it’s worth noting that with Kelly Ayotte’s statement opposing the Manchin-Toomey gun amendment, it’s dead.

But it’s also worth noting that even at the normally acute TPM, there was no mention of the assumption that Ayotte was actually announcing she would vote to sustain a filibuster against Manchin-Toomey. Check out this language:

Ayotte’s opposition leaves the amendment short of the required 60 votes for passage, unless a senator reverses their position prior to the vote on the floor at 4pm ET today.

Lest we forget, 51 votes are needed to pass Manchin-Toomey, or really just 50 since Joe Biden breaks ties. There are 52 announced votes for the amendment, plus Frank Lautenberg, who is not expected to attend today’s session. It’s cloture that requires 60 votes, and for all the sporadic talk about filibuster reform, far too many observers still accept the “60-vote Senate” meme, which is a recent and radical invention.

I argued yesterday (and have argued in the past) that at a minimum, Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats need to start insisting on a distinction between cloture motions and votes on the merits of legislation, and make party loyalty on the former a disciplinary matter.

If that’s too nuanced an argument for these hammer-headed times, then maybe I will indeed go all Cato the Elder and start incessantly croaking: “Filibuster Delenda Est,” at least until such time as media figures stop accepting a 60-vote Senate as though it came down from Mount Sinai on stone tablets.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.