A couple of weeks ago the House passed PelosiCare, now it seems the Senate is ready to take a test vote on their own 2000+ page HarryCare-y bill. The test vote, otherwise know as a cloture vote, will determine whether the bill will be brought to the Senate floor, where it will almost certainly be passed. Senator Harry Reid has called for the vote to take place Saturday night at 8 PM.
The Democrats have 58 seats in the Senate, plus there are 2 Dem caucusing Independents. A full 60 votes is required for cloture, so all 60 will be required to bring it to debate. Several Democrats have registered their opposition to the bill based on their aversion to the pro abortion or pro public option elements. The bill is forever changing in order to garnish just enough votes. I couldn’t even tell you what it has in it, as I’ve heard conflicting reports on a daily basis: The public option is in, now it’s out, now it’s called the community option… etc. Whether or not the Senate bill has a clause to prevent federal funding of abortion the House will attempt to re-insert it when it goes to a joint committee to iron out the wrinkles between the two bills.
In any case this bill is bad for health care, bad for our economy, bad for the individual rights and liberties of U.S. citizens. This bill must be defeated!
Here’s what we need to do: GOP.com has identified 9 Democrat Senators who have signaled opposition to the HarryCare-y bill. These Senators, though opposed to the bill, may essentially allow it to pass by voting for cloture. We need to let them know that a vote for cloture is a vote for the actual bill.
Call these Senators and tell them to vote no on cloture on the health care bill Saturday night.
Update: GOP.com further identifies Senators Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson (listed below) as “critically important to defeating Saturday’s vote.” Give them special attention.
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What is a filibuster? From Wikipedia:
The term first came into use in the United States Senate, where Senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless a 3/5ths of the Senate (60 out of 100 Senators elected and sworn), brings debate to a close by invoking cloture. (For changing of senate rules the pre-1975 rule of a super-majority of senators present, i.e. 67 senators at most, is still used).
In current practice, Senate Rule 22 permits filibusters in which actual continuous floor speeches are not required, although the Senate Majority Leader may require an actual traditional filibuster if he or she so chooses. This threat of a filibuster where no floor speech and no quorum is required may, therefore, be more powerful than an actual filibuster, which would require attendance by a quorum of Senators as well as the physical presence of the Senators speaking.
Previously, the filibustering senator(s) could delay voting only by making an endless speech. Currently, they only need to indicate that they are filibustering, thereby preventing the Senate from moving on to other business until the motion is withdrawn or enough votes are gathered for cloture.
Preparations for a traditional filibuster can be very elaborate. Sometimes cots are brought into the hallways or cloakrooms for senators to sleep on. While in a filibuster the senator talking must remain in the same spot and is only allowed to filibuster twice in a legislative day. A legislative day lasts until the debate is adjourned, which can take days. According to Newsweek:
They used to call it ‘taking to the diaper,’ a phrase that referred to the preparation undertaken by a prudent senator before an extended filibuster. Strom Thurmond visited a steam room before his filibuster in order to dehydrate himself so he could drink without urinating. An aide stood by in the cloakroom with a pail in case of emergency.
Filibusters have become much more common in recent decades. Twice as many filibusters took place in the 1991-1992 legislative session as took place in the entire nineteenth century.