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The Insane Senate

Ezra Klein gets this, about the Senate's crazy rule-making, exactly, perfectly right:

The filibuster is not the right to a 60-vote supermajority. It is the right to unlimited debate. And the reconciliation process is not the right to extinguish the filibuster. It is an expedited process for reconciling budgets that limits debate to 20 hours....

You'd want more than 20 hours to debate a cap and trade bill (or, for that matter, a health reform bill). But exceeding 20 hours means you have to find 10 more votes in the Senate. (Obviously, you could say here that the onus, then, is on the minority to vote for cloture and accept the eventual loss, but that's unlikely to happen). Which is why we should do away with both rules. Decide how many votes a bill should require for passage and then make that the limit. For both sides of every argument to constantly try and distort the majority requirements by invoking rules with all sorts of bizarre secondary effects is an insane way to run the business of government.

--Jonathan Chait