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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter's Switch: Why It Matters

With newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in their ranks, Obama's party now controls 59 seats in the upper chamber. When Al Franken of Minnesota is finally seated, Democrats will have 60, the number needed to squash a filibuster and move to a final vote.
Sixty is the magic number in the Senate -- but only if the party can muster 60 votes. Sixty members alone doesn't do it, a point emphasized by conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska when asked by the Huffington Post what Specter's move does to his own position as a power broker in the Senate.
"Nothing. Sixty members doesn't translate to 60 votes, so it doesn't really change anything for me," he said. "The automatic assumption that people will take from this is, 'Ah, things are changing.' And maybe they will, but it's not automatic."


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