February 28, 2013
The Washington Monument
(Ron Edmonds/ Associated Press)

The Democratic sequestration replacement was defeated in the Senate today. By filibuster. Reporters who don’t include that in their story aren’t doing their job.

Both Republicans and Democrats had plans today that were defeated in the Senate. The Republican plan was clobbered, getting only 38 votes, as several Republicans defected and all Democrats opposed it.

The Democratic plan, however, was supported by a majority of the Senate, with all but three Democrats supporting it and every Republican opposed — in other words, a 52-48 majority (Harry Reid switched to “no” for procedural reasons at the end of the vote).

Why didn’t it pass? Politico, the AP, and The Post tell us that the vote “needed” 60 to pass. But that’s not the case; or at least, it’s not the case without a filibuster.

Right now, the Republican position — what Speaker John Boehner says virtually every day — is that the House has acted to replace the sequester, but the president and the Democrats in the Senate have not. The truth is that Boehner’s House actions occurred in the now-expired 112th Congress. And now, the Senate has tried to act, but successful minority Republican obstruction prevented it. Leaving that out severely distorts the story.

Of course, any bill will need both Democratic and Republican support to clear both chambers of Congress and get a presidential signature. Just because the Democrats have something that wins a majority of the Senate doesn’t automatically mean that they are more ready to compromise than the Republicans (I think they are, but that there’s a bill Democrats agree on doesn’t prove that). However, it really does undermine Boehner’s go-to talking point.

And at any rate: It’s just a better description of what’s actually happening in the Senate to say that something was defeated by filibuster than to say that it received 51 votes but “needed” 60. Yes, that’s standard operating procedure now, but it’s obstruction just the same, and a big part of the story.