What Happened in the Senate Last Night?

More

"Senate" was a trending topic on Twitter last night in Washington, D.C. Here's why:

In brief (well, Senate-style brief), Senate rules prohibit non-germane (unrelated) amendments on the Senate floor after cloture has been invoked on a bill. In other words, unless all senators consent, senators can only offer germane amendments once debate has been limited on a bill. McConnell and Reid appear to have been negotiating an agreement that would have allowed Republicans to offer seven non-germane amendments post-cloture. But then a GOP senator moved to suspend the rules (which requires a two-thirds vote) so that he could offer non-germane amendments, including at least one related to the president's jobs bill. Frustrated with the Republicans' tactics, Reid raised a point of order that the Republican motion was dilatory. Under Senate rules, dilatory motions are not in order once cloture has been invoked. The parliamentarian advised the presiding officer to rule that the motion was in order, the presiding officer did just that, and a vote ensued on whether or not to sustain or overrule the chair's ruling. Appeals of the chair require only a majority vote to pass, and Reid mustered all the Democrats save Ben Nelson to vote to overturn the chair. In practice, this means that the Senate tonight set a new precedent, by which I mean a new interpretation of the Senate cloture rule: Under cloture, a motion to suspend the rules to offer a non-germane amendment may now be declared dilatory.

Still confused? Read Sarah Binder's full explanation of the significance of this procedural change over at political science and economy blog The Monkey Cage.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgement, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In