Filibusters aren’t finished

As mentioned above, thanks to last month’s national elections, Democrats now have a firm grip on both houses of Congress.

However, thanks to a runoff election in Georgia Tuesday, they don’t have the filibuster-proof majority they had hoped for, and that’s great news for the political process.

Republican incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss handily defeated Democrat Jim Martin in the runoff, which was required under Georgia law because neither candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4 general election. Libertarian Allen Buckley, then in the race, divided the vote.

Because of Chambliss’ Tuesday victory, Democrats won’t have the 60 vote supermajority they need to end any Republican filibuster that may occur on issues ranging from judicial nominations to the budget.

A Minnesota Senate seat is still being contested. There Republican Sen. Norm Coleman still has a small lead over Democratic funnyman Al Franken and a recount is under way.

That means Democrats will have to make sure their nominees and legislation are centrist enough to win at least a few Republicans to their side. That’s not a huge obstacle, given some of the liberal-leaning GOP senators from some states. But it does act as a brake on a single party’s unchecked control of government.

And, no matter which party is in power, a little political gridlock is something to be desired.


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