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Nothing but the truth!
By Will Power
October 17, 2011 (San Diego)-It is beyond my understanding why politicians of both parties continue to insist the US Constitution requires 60 votes to stop a filibuster and only 51 to pass legislations.

The US Constitution is quite clear- the majority required to pass legislation is only 51 votes.  How did the current 60 vote logjam come about?
That's because of the filibuster, the now widely-used practice of keeping debate going in perpetuity on a bill in order to kill it. Under Senate rules, the only way to defeat a filibuster is to get 60 votes – nine more than you would need simply to pass the measure.

The filibuster is a self-imposed Senate rule Filibustering was rare for most of the Senate's first two centuries, though perhaps more effective; for much of that period, backers needed 67 votes to  overcome a filibuster. The filibuster was used to stop Civil Rights Legislation by Southern Democrats.

The Senate changed the rules in 1975, so that it would only take 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Not too long after that – beginning roughly around the time Bill Clinton came into office – filibustering went from a rare maneuver to common practice. It's been particularly popular among Senate Republicans in the most recent Congress.

Since the filibuster is a Senate Rule, not a Constitutional requirement, why doesn't somebody sue to overturn it? Even the most Conservative US Supreme Court could not fail to se the US Constitution is being flouted. What is the Highest law of the land? Is it the US Constitution or the Senate Rules Committee?

Until the filibuster is stopped, Congress will never pass necessary legislation to get the economy to recover. It's a no-brainer!

Will Power is a retired history teacher and creative writing instructor. The opinions in this column reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.


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