The Silent Filibuster: Already in Progress

Jane Hamsher has a must-read post on the culpability of Harry Reid in the possibility that there is a silent filibuster of the public health insurance option. Jane writes:

There are 51 Senators who will vote for a public option, something 77% of the country wants. It would win a majority in a floor vote. We were told that we needed 60 votes in the Caucus so we’d have a filibuster-proof majority — so that the GOP would never block a bill from getting to the floor. The only reason not to put the HELP Committee public option in the Senate bill is because Joe Lieberman and other “ConservaDems” are conducting a silent filibuster — they won’t say it publicly but they’ll say privately that they will vote with the GOP to filibuster the bill.

That means the Democratic caucus will now filibuster itself.

I only have one thing to say: Don’t even fucking think about it. We were told we had to suck up all manner of corporate whoredom for that 60 vote filibuster proof majority — that’s what we supposedly got in exchange for letting Lieberman have his committee chair, right? Except now I guess he gets all the power and the perks just because you like him, with none of the responsibility to stick with the caucus on procedural votes.

Sadly it already looks like Reid is going to not stand up to the silent filibuster.  What makes me say this? Well, yesterday following the passage of the Senate Finance bill, Reid’s office committed to keeping Olympia Snowe involved in the process by giving her a spot on the negotiating team that will merge the SFC and HELP bills. From the NYT Prescriptions blog:

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said that Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican on the Finance Committee to vote in favor of the bill, would be invited to future sessions. And Mr. Manley said the Democratic leader was prepared to go to substantial lengths to keep Ms. Snowe’s support.

“He is prepared to do what he can to keep her on board while putting together a bill that can get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster,” Mr. Manley said.

But here’s the thing: if Reid were stopping the silent filibuster of the public option, he would not need Snowe’s vote to “overcome a Republican filibuster.” He would need Snowe’s vote if and only if he has to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

Snowe is only necessary when Reid cannot or will not maintain Democratic caucus discipline. By Manley’s admission, Reid is not going to do this. Hopefully at some point soon Manley and other representatives for Senator Reid will begin to honestly speak about their decision to not hold caucus discipline and instead prioritize letting Snowe write the legislation that she wants to see come to the floor of the Senate. The sole virtue in this – the sole thing that might actually lead this to more than 60 votes – is that it will be so bad it will satisfy the concerns of people like Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson. But that’s not what Democrats promised and it most certainly isn’t what the country wants.

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