Don't be fooled by the final vote count. The real vote was when Boehner asked his members whether he should bring the bill to the floor unamended, knowing the Democrats would provide enough votes for it to pass.
In 2008, Barack Obama promised to change the way Washington works. In 2013, we might actually see that change. But it won’t be because Obama was reelected. It'll be because Senate Democrats -- both new and old -- decide to reform the filibuster.
In endorsement after endorsement, the basic argument is that President Obama hasn't been able to persuade House or Senate Republicans to work with him. If Obama is re-elected, it's a safe bet that they'll continue to refuse to work with him. So vote Romney!
The looming fiscal contraction is about more than the Bush tax cuts and the sequester. About $65 billion of assorted tax breaks are also scheduled to expire, adding yet another complication to Congress' negotiations.
On Monday, public-interest group Common Cause filed a legal brief in a U.S. District Court trying to persuade the court that the filibuster's 60-vote threshold in the Senate violates the Constitution. The group believes that the filibuster is a historical accident that Aaron Burr introduced in 1806, and that it violates the Founding Fathers' intention to avoid supermajority requirements.
When I talk to legislators, I tend to hear some variation of the following: "This is a choice election. The American people are getting two very different visions and they're going to pick one of them." My standard follow-up question is, "if you think this is a choice election, will you let the other side govern if they win?" No one has ever said yes.
As Congress has become more polarized, policy debates have become less complex, distilled down to a strictly dualistic, partisan choice. In a new paper, two researchers show how this trend increased between 1965 and 2004 in the House of Representatives, as legislators became more inclined to vote based along party lines and made the debate over issues increasingly one-dimensional.
The metaphor we tend to use for congressional dysfunction is "gridlock." When you have gridlock, nothing moves. But that's not quite what we've seen. When Congress grinds to a halt, other governmental actors step into the breach.
In May, Reid apologized for killing off a 2010 filibuster reform bill. He's now gone a step farther: the Senate Majority Leader is now openly promising to pass filibuster reform in the beginning of the next Congress if Democrats manage to hold onto a simple majority in the Senate and if Obama is re-elected.
Hating on congress is a beloved American tradition. Hence Mark Twain's old joke, “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” But the 112th Congress is no ordinary congress. It’s a very bad, no good, terrible Congress. It is, in fact, one of the very worst congresses we have ever had.