Senate Filibuster Question: Why is a Majority Required to End the Minority’s Filibuster?

Breakdown of political party representation in...

Breakdown of political party representation in the United States Senate during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican Light Blue: Independent (caucused with Democrats) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The United States Senate rules require a vote of 61 senators for cloture to end debate and move business to a vote, correct?  I know there are other issues regarding quorums and unanimous consent among all “duly sworn” senators (versus those present) that will close debate, but for my simple understanding and my question here, let’s leave the point of the filibuster as a process that interferes with those procedures.

So why is the burden on the majority to push for cloture and not on the minority to keep the debate open?  Rather than 61 votes to end the debate, if the issue before the Senate is indeed so dear to the opposing party — which these days includes Presidential Cabinet nominees — shouldn’t they muster 41 votes to keep the debate going?  It might not hurt to get some of these guys off their ass (something classy House Speaker John Boehner suggested Senate Democrats needed to do) and literally show up for what they claim to believe, whether Republican or Democrat, if they intend to block a vote.

This seems like a simple rule change to me, but likely not going to happen, I suppose.  How do these reforms happen?  You’d likely need to start with some cooperation across party lines and that isn’t going to happen soon.

Ah well, hell…it is just a thought, a question for which I don’t know the answer.


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