Tuesday, May 13, 2003

This is a Job For (ta-da-ta-dum) Super Majority!!-Let's watch the current installment of Stoopid Human Tricks unfolding in the Southwest, where Texas Democratic state reps have fled to Oklahoma in order to avoid having a quorum and losing a vote on redistricting. They've fled north, for state law allows for AWOL state reps to be arrested and brought back to the chambers; however, as Buford T. Justice found out, his authority runs out at the state line. The Texas government has looked just about as good as ol' Buford; Democratic governors in New Mexico and Oklahoma have allowed the Texas GOP to stew in it's own natural juices and ignored extradition requests. This type of gamesmenship seems to be more common as of late. Filibusters have become commonplace in the US Senate, and both sides of the aisle have used it; Republicans filibustered used the hold process agressively on some of Clinton's judicial nominees and Texas Speaker of the House Tom Craddick was part of a similar stunt in 1971. However, Democrats have upped the ante and taken procedures that were last-resort actions only used to stop drastic wrongs and made them commonplace. [Update-5/14 7:30AM Mr. Furman corrects me on judicial filibusters, the Republicans didn't do a actual filibuster in the Clinton years] In the US Senate, things effectively need 60 votes to pass if it isn't a budget issue.You effectively now need a two-thirds majority to do business in Texas' lower chamber. The legislative process takes on a different tone as the minority party can shut down government if it doesn't get their way. Are we looking at having to have grand coalitions where things can only happen with the mutual consent of both parties? With political parties increasingly polarized, such a prospect isn't promising.

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