|Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Political Institutions’|
Sen. Franken Adds to Potential Filibuster-Free Senate
Published Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
After an eight month and a 312 vote margin battle for the second Senate seat in Minnesota, Al Franken has been sworn in as the state’s Democratic junior senator. His committee assignments will include Judiciary, Aging and Health. He will not be allowed to join the Aging and Health committee as it overhauls the Healthcare Bill since it is still considering hundreds of amendments that Sen. Franken was not present to debate. His first act was to end his day on a vote against Sen. John McCain’s transportation amendment.
The majority composition of the Senate consists of 58 democrats and 2 independents, totaling three fifths of the Senate. Senate democrats and the President now have the opportunity to work together on legislation that may otherwise be filibustered by republicans. Filibusters can be struck down with three fifths of the Senate invoking cloture or closure of the bill or proposal. Recent history of the filibuster shows just how powerful it is, as republicans unsuccessfully in 2005 were determined to ban the filibuster for judicial nominees. In 2007, Senate democrats allowed a filibuster on debate regarding the Levin-Reed Amendment attached to the War Supplement of 2008, yet the proposal was dropped due to insufficient numbers to pass the amendment with two thirds majority. The Senate has not experienced such a majority of either party since the early 1960-1979 period when the Democrats enjoyed a relative majority of 68 to 54.