11/21/2009 10:29 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Tyranny of the Silent Filibuster

Why doesn't Harry Reid force an old-fashioned filibuster that could make Republicans look silly? Because he can't.

The Senate Majority Leader must get 60 votes to start the health care debate -- which he aims to try tonight -- and he'll need that many again when it comes time to try and stop the debate for an up-or-down vote.

So why not make Republicans really filibuster, provoking the spectacle of marathon speechmaking? Because it's just not that simple.

Under Senate rules, filibusterers need to do no more than call for endless rounds of quorum calls. The only drama for television would be watching successive roll calls, and that's nothing like the Hollywood scenario we saw with Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

No, as we point out in this video (produced by CQ-Roll Call's Andrew Satter), Reid is doing all that he can do -- collect 60 votes for a super-majority that allows a final vote.

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