The Senate: A Strange Theater of Failure

The Senate’s strange turn this year is partly a result of odd rules — and the bitter political times.

American_Flag_BlurOn Tuesday evening, a landmark jobs proposal from a Democratic president came before the Democratic-controlled Senate. There were 50 votes for it and 49 votes against it.

The fate of the jobs bill — which lost by winning, in a vote that didn’t really matter in the first place — made perfect sense in the Senate. It might be the Washington institution most warped by the current culture of gridlock, transformed from a balky but functional legislative body into a strange theater of failure.

The reason: In the Senate, it takes 60 votes to do anything big. Now neither side has them.

So the huge tactical question is not whether big ideas will lose. It is who will own the failure politically.

To that end, the Senate’s two party leaders have spent the past nine months trying to trick, trap, embarrass and out-maneuver one another. Each is hoping to force the other into a mistake that will burden him and his party with a greater share of the public blame.

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Source: David A. Fahrenthold and Paul Kane | The Washington Post