Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

          If the recent Senate debate on health care convinced you the place is broken, I think you're right.  And now, the Washington Post reports, some relatively young senators are thinking about trying to reform the place.      The Post quotes Tom Udall, elected in 2008, as saying, "The more the American people understand the system's broken, the more they are going to support rules reform."   Older member, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, 92, who has served in Congress longer than anybody, ever, says the reformers are "grossly misguided...Extended deliberations and debate, when used judiciously, protect every senator and the interest of their constituents and are essential to the protection of the liberties of a free people."  "Used judiciously" means, I think, used whenever a particular senator wants to use them.      Well, the Senate is not a democracy, of course.  It doesn't run by majority rule.  Bernard Sanders of Vermont converted to reform after Richard Shelby of Alabama  placed a hold on dozens of President Obama's nominees to various agencies because of an unrelated dispute on a funding matter in Shelby's home state.  "I think the average person would say, 'Excuse me. That's nuts,' " said Sanders.        I think their case for changing the rules is strong.  Will it happen?  It takes 67 votes to change the Senate rules.  Don't hold your breath
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