It may sound arcane, but Rule XXII has big consequences. It means, in effect, that new legislation can be forced to muster a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate. Happily for Mr Obama, a Republican from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, decided last April to join the Democrats. His defection, followed by the ruling that Al Franken had squeaked to victory in Minnesota, eventually gave the Senate Democrats a filibuster-proof supermajority. This appeared to put health reform—the achievement that eluded Bill Clinton—well within reach. So Mr Obama seemed to take no risks in making this one of his chief tests of success as a president.Never mind that Rule XXII has stood since 1917 (which you'd think would be enough time for a country to thoroughly do itself in) -- now that Obama's signature reform is in jeopardy, America must be ungovernable! Moreover, Democrats don't have a supermajority any more! Hello, banana republic-ville!
But wait. Hang on just a cotton-pickin' second:
For Brown, joining a GOP filibuster over a parliamentary procedural squabble clearly wasn't the best vote for a new senator from an overwhelmingly Democratic state who had campaigned on a promise to rise above partisan politics.Huh. So maybe, by crafting truly bipartisan legislation that moves the country forward while satisfying the interests of both parties, we can come to a reasonable consensus?
"I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families," said Brown, whose election last month gave Republicans the 41st vote that could sustain filibusters. "This Senate jobs bill is not perfect ... but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work."
I'm not a particular fan of this jobs bill, but it's a clear lesson in bipartisanship -- not the the "hey, we won, you guys have to roll over" bipartisanship of hope and change, but actual, real, let's hash out a deal that actually works bipartisanship -- works. The sky isn't falling just yet.