The 60-Vote Myth

You see it all the time: You need 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate. Not exactly. Under Senate rules–which can be changed by a majority vote–you need the consent of 3/5ths of the Senate to close debate on an issue; that’s 60 votes. To pass a bill, you need a majority of those present. Since Ted Kennedy is sick and Al Franken has not yet been seated, that’s 49 votes. Is that an academic distinction? No, not really. Politically, voting against an emergency stimulus bill is very different from voting to block a vote on an emergency […]