An inside-baseball dispute in the Missouri Senate that threatened to slow down debate on legislation and could have caused some of Governor Blunt’s appointees to fail to gain Senate advice and consent has been resolved after two days of negotiation.
Minority Democrats had been slowing down consideration of the appointments since last Thursday. Democrats have been upset about the use of a parliamentary technique by majority Republicans to cut off debate and pass majority-backed legislation, some of which the Democrats charge was special-interest legislation that did not merit extraordinary steps to get approved. Democrats were frustrated because of what they felt was a violation of the time-honored Senate tradition of allowing extended debate, even filibusters, by minority members until the majority decided to compromise. Republicans countered that they needed a way to gain passage of bills favored by a majority of the members of the Senate.
An effort last week to change Senate rules to require a three-fourths vote–later revised to a 60 percent vote–to move the previous question was voted down on party lines.
Minority Leader Maida Coleman of St. Louis and President Pro-tem Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood met during the weekend and agreed to appoint three members of their respective parties to a special negotiating team to reach a deal. Both Coleman and Gibbons say the team members are the newer members of the Senate who had the long-term interests of the Senate in mind.
Bob Priddy interviewed Gibbons and Coleman after the Senate approved the nominees last night. You can download their comments below.