You probably heard that the Senate just passed the jobs bill, which is big news. But the news you may not hear in the rest of the press is the vote margin and the backstory behind it. The bill passed 70 - 28. The ‘vote’ to allow a vote on the bill only passed on a 62 to 30 vote margin. In other words, a bunch of people who voted against allowing a vote at all then turned around and voted for the legislation. It shows you a lot of the cowardice, buck-passing and general nonsense behind the current use of the filibuster. By any logic, the numbers should go the other way: the number of people who are willing to allow a vote should if anything be greater than the number who are willing to vote for the legislation on its merits.
Now, there are a few caveats. Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) is in New Jersey undergoing chemotherapy. So he wasn’t available for either vote. But that leaves seven other senators senators who missed the cloture vote altogether: Bennett (R-UT), Brownback (R-KS), Burr (R-NC), Enzi (R-WY), Hatch (R-UT), Isakson (R-GA) and Sessions (R-AL). And on a cloture vote, absent an excuse like getting chemo, an absent vote on a cloture motion is always taken as a ‘no’, since the ‘no’s don’t have to show up to block the legislation. They just have to not vote ‘yes’.
We’re trying to confirm now who the switchers are.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.