Freddie incorrect on US Senate voting rule

first_imgDear Editor,In another section of the media, Freddie Kissoon incorrectly penned that then Democratic controlled US Senate changed the two-thirds (67) majority rule to a simple majority (51) to approve President Barack Obama’s nominees. He misleads readers. I have taught American constitutional law for over two decades and am very familiar with the voting procedure. Freddie is out of depth on the voting rule. What Democrats changed was the rule for ending debate and not the majority rule to approve of nominees (except for judicial nominees).Historically, Senators could speak for an unlimited time on a bill or a nominee up for confirmation.  Bills or appointments were filibustered, talking them to death. The rule was changed in 1917 to require a two-thirds majority to end debate or stop someone from speaking forever on a bill. Since it was almost impossible to get 67 Senators to end debate (Cloture Rule) or end a filibuster, the rule was changed in 1975 to 60 Senators favoring an end to debate. The Democrats had 60 Senators during Obama’s first two years in office in 2009 and his nominees were not filibustered because of the filibuster-proof majority.The Republicans filibustered Obama’s picks in 2013 after his re-election. In 2013, because of Republicans’ obstinacy, Democrats decided to change the debate rules requiring a simple majority of 51 to end debate on presidential nominees except for appointees to fill vacant Federal judgeships. The 51 majority rule came to be known as the nuclear option to fast-track confirmation of appointees (except Judges).The Republicans (52-48) used the nuclear option for Trump’s nominees.  It is not clear if they will also force the nuclear option for Trump’s nominee on the Supreme Court.For all appointments, a simple majority of 51 was/is required for confirmation and has not been changed. The cloture rule of 60 (3/5 and not two thirds) only applies to ending debate and not confirmation.Yours truly,Dr Vishnu Bisramlast_img