Because it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture in the Senate, a lot of liberal groups are organizing around a "60 votes" narrative. Matt Stoller has some doubts, citing the fact that most major pieces of legislation pass with substantially more than 60 votes. I think, however, that that mostly reflects the fact that Senators don't like to vote "no" to no avail. A whopping 12 Senate Democrats, for example, voted for the first Bush tax cut bill to their neverending shame.

I'm fairly certain, however, that some of those Senators could have been persuaded to vote "no" if their votes would have been decisive. The trouble is that whipping becomes very difficult once your side is going to lose anyway, while being willing to hop on board often gives you an opportunity to make minor modifications/additions to legislation that you like.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to