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The Senate voted today, 53-38, to end debate on whether the body has "no confidence" in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.  The tally fell seven votes short of the 60 necessary to achieve "cloture".

According to Wikipedia, Blawgletter’s source for every fact whose accuracy doesn’t matter:

The procedure for "invoking cloture," or ending a filibuster, is as follows:

  • A minimum of sixteen senators must sign a petition for cloture.
  • The petition may be presented by interrupting another Senator’s speech.
  • The clerk reads the petition.
  • The cloture petition is ignored for one full day during which the Senate is sitting (If the petition is filed on a Friday, it is ignored until Tuesday, assuming that the Senate did not sit on Saturday or Sunday.)
  • On the second calendar day during which the Senate sits after the presentation of the petition, after the Senate has been sitting for one hour, a "quorum call" is undertaken to ensure that a majority of the Senators are present.
  • The President of the Senate or President pro tempore presents the petition.
  • The Senate votes on the petition; three-fifths of the whole number of Senators (sixty with no vacancies) is the required majority; however, when cloture is invoked on a question of changing the rules of the Senate, two-thirds of the Senators voting (not necessarily two-thirds of all Senators) is the requisite majority.

After cloture has been invoked, the following restrictions apply:

  • No more than thirty hours of debate may occur.
  • No Senator may speak for more than one hour.
  • No amendments may be moved unless they were filed on the day in between the presentation of the petition and the actual cloture vote.
  • All amendments must be relevant to the debate.
  • Certain debates on procedure are not permissible.
  • The presiding officer gains additional power in controlling debate.
  • No other matters may be considered until the question upon which cloture was invoked is disposed of.

Blawgletter finds these details intereresting.  But we feel even more fascination with the Senate majority’s no confidence in Mr. Gonzales.  And we wonder how many of the procedural objectors feel substantive abhorrence with him. 

Our suspicion? Many.

Barry Barnett

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