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A Reminder About Filibuster Math

With Joe Lieberman and, now, Evan Bayh threatening to support Republican filibusters of health care reform, it's worth taking a moment to contemplate what that would mean in terms of majority rule--or lack thereof.

By most accounts, there are five non-Republican senators who might support a filibuster if reform includes a strong public option. The five are Evan Bayh, Mary Landreiu, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, and Ben Nelson. Assume, as a worst case scenario, all five were to follow through on the threat. According to TNR's crack research team, the forty-five senators standing in the way of an up-or-down vote would represent 38.7 percent of the population.

Bayh, in explaining his position, said that he considers a vote for cloture--that is, a vote to end a filibuster--the equivalent of voting for a bill. Fine. He should also be reminded that filibustering reform would mean thwarting the will of a majority of senators representing no less than 61 percent of the population.