When Harry Reid made a motion to proceed to the Default Prevention Act of 2013 this afternoon, he got the support of 54 senators out of the 98 who voted. For procedural reasons, Sen. Reid changed his vote to ‘nay’ so that he could preserve the right to introduce the motion again. Here’s how the New York Times reported it:
As the House met to vote on yet another proposal that would go nowhere in the Senate, Mr. Reid called a vote to begin debate on a Democratic proposal that would extend the debt ceiling through the end of 2014 with no strings attached. No Senate Republicans voted yes, and the measure failed to reach the 60-vote threshold it needed.
The reporting is correct. In order for the motion to pass, it needed not a majority of fifty-one but a supermajority of sixty. There’s nothing unusual about this, unfortunately. Very little can pass through the Senate these days without overcoming a filibuster. A majority of the Senate voted to begin debate on a clean debt ceiling extension, but a minority blocked that debate from happening.
It used to be that we only had to endure filibusters on the rarest of occasions and over the most divisive issues. Despite Republican lawmakers getting themselves worked up into a froth over ObamaCare and the debt, I don’t think defunding the health care bill and paying our bills rise to same the level of contentiousness with the public as, say, Jim Crow.
This is just a reminder that if the filibuster hadn’t become the new normal, we probably could have ended this standoff today.