How Senator Wyden's PIPA Filibuster Will Work, And What Harry Reid Will Try To Do To Kill It

from the cloture dept

Last month, Senator Harry Reid decided that the massive and growing public outcry against SOPA shouldn’t be of any concern at all to the Democratic Party in the Senate, and announced plans to bring the Senate’s companion bill, PROTECT IP (or PIPA) to the floor, in an attempt to get around Senator Ron Wyden’s hold on the bill (Wyden has been joined by Senators Rand Paul, Jerry Moran and Maria Cantwell, in objecting to the bill and promising to fight against it). As has been noted, Senator Wyden has promised to read aloud the names of those who have signed a petition against the bill.

There has been some confusion over the whole process of the filibuster, as well as the process of the “cloture” vote to both get around the “hold” on the bill, as well as end the filibuster. Some have insisted that Wyden simply won’t get to speak on the floor at all if there are the necessary 60 votes for cloture. So, thankfully, Ernesto Falcon at Public Knowledge has put together a fantastic post that explains the hold/cloture/filibuster process and more or less explains what will happen at the end of January if Reid can get the votes to get cloture:

On January 23rd, the United States Senate will reconvene to begin legislative business for 2012. After the first order of business is taken care of, Majority Leader Harry Reid will then continue the process he started on December 17th of moving PIPA towards a Senate floor vote. This process is known as invoking “cloture,” which is a rule that allows any Senator to impose a 30 hour time limit on debate subject to three-fifths of the Senate agreeing to end debate. Senator Ron Wyden has stated he will filibuster PIPA along with Senators Jerry Moran, Maria Cantwell, and Rand Paul and together they will use the full 30 hours available resulting in the cloture vote being held the next day.

On January 24th, Majority Leader Reid?s cloture motion will have matured its 30 hours and he will then be allowed to call for an up-or-down vote on moving forward to consider PIPA. If three-fifths of the U.S. Senate agree by voting yes on cloture (ending debate), then the bill can be taken up for consideration and the process where Senators can offer amendments will begin as well as another cloture motion (resulting in another 30 hours of debate). The general rule of thumb is a bill that has 60 Senators in support of its passage will take about three days to pass the U.S. Senate.

However, if 60 Senators do not vote yes on cloture, then Senators Wyden, Moran, Cantwell, and Paul will be allowed to continue to speak in opposition to PIPA forever. That being said, what would likely happen in the aftermath if PIPA fails to gain 60 yes votes is the bill is withdrawn and a compromise is negotiated. If no compromise is possible, then the bill officially dies. It is important to note that three-fifths of the Senate must vote yes to move PIPA forward. For example, if 59 Senators voted yes on cloture and 41 Senators voted present or do not vote at all, it fails to pass. The key factor in cloture is three-fifths of the Senate voting yes on cloture and not how many votes are against PIPA.

In other words, as we noted at the time, the race is now on for an additional 20 Senators to sign on with the existing 40 supporters of the bill. If supporters can’t find 20 more Senators willing to put their name on the record as supporting PIPA, then the bill likely won’t move forward. They already have 40 Senators signed on — putting their names on a bill that sets up the fundamental legal and technological framework to censor the internet in the US. But, over the last few weeks, this bill has certainly become more toxic as people have spoken out. Unfortunately, it’s not toxic enough, and there are plenty of out-of-touch Senators, who don’t even realize what’s in the bill and what its likely impact will be. That’s why there’s basically three more weeks in which to make it clear to both supporters of PIPA, as well as those who haven’t yet taken a side, that supporting this bill is a huge mistake with serious consequences. If you do have a chance to go to a Town Hall meeting, or otherwise meet your Senator, Public Knowledge has also put together a handy information packet (pdf) with some quick points about the bill, and some sample questions you might want to ask your Senator.

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Comments on “How Senator Wyden's PIPA Filibuster Will Work, And What Harry Reid Will Try To Do To Kill It”

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63 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Horror of horrors…. Do you actually mean that democratically-elected representatives might actually be able to go forward, considering, debating, amending and ultimately voting on legislation? That’s an outrage!!!

If supporters can’t find 20 more Senators willing to put their name on the record as supporting PIPA, then the bill likely won’t move forward.

This is neither honest, nor accurate. A vote for cloture is not a vote for or against a bill. It is a vote in order to proceed with doing their jobs. Specifically to debate, amend and vote on legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Unfortunately, that’s the TD norm. Mike should really have a disclaimer on every page.”

And this would be what I was referring to the other day in the Hacker Satellite article. I pointed out how you try and come off as reasonable while resorting to saying things like this. Which undermines everything reasonable you do say.

Congratulations, you are officially a troll. Two ad homs in not even 5 comments on the article. You’re on a roll, Joe.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Congratulations, you are officially a troll. Two ad homs in not even 5 comments on the article. You’re on a roll, Joe.

LOL! How do you explain Mike’s unsupported claim that certain Senators don’t “even realize what’s in the bill”? Do you think that unsubstantiated claim is Mike being “honest” or “accurate”? I don’t. And Mike makes up stuff like that all the time. I’m simply pointing out that Mike plays fast and loose with the facts in his desperate attempts to manipulate his readers. What you call “ad homs” I call pointing out a liar for being a liar.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And can you back up these accusations with proof that he has actually lied? Or that he wasn’t, you know, EXPRESSING HIS OPINION?

Come on, you are about as dumb as a box of rocks.

This is a blog. These are Mike’s opinions. You don’t like them? No one is forcing you to read them.

And uh, we don’t need you “opening our eyes” or “pointing out a liar for being a liar” for us. Way to insult our intelligence.

Aerilus says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

you might want to go read the bill of rights specifically that bit at the top, as well as a couple hundred years of case law on the first amendment as long as it can be assumed to be an opinion it is not slander or libel and can be shouted from the roof tops without fear of reprisal, I am sure you would support any legislation to curtail freedom of speech though

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This is neither honest, nor accurate. A vote for cloture is not a vote for or against a bill. It is a vote in order to proceed with doing their jobs. Specifically to debate, amend and vote on legislation.

It’s actually both accurate and a lot more honest that the bogus political crap you spewed. How often do Senators vote for cloture and then vote against the same bill that someone wants to filibuster? It happens, but it’s not that common, and you know it. Pretending this is merely a vote to “do their jobs” is what’s dishonest.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s actually both accurate and a lot more honest that the bogus political crap you spewed. How often do Senators vote for cloture and then vote against the same bill that someone wants to filibuster? It happens, but it’s not that common, and you know it. Pretending this is merely a vote to “do their jobs” is what’s dishonest.

You’re a hopeless rube, Masnick. Voting for cloture because your party or leadership asks, but still opposing the measure happens all of the time. It just happened on the jobs bill. A lot of Senators vote for cloture because they view holds as a cheap, anti-democratic parlor trick and/or don’t want 2-3 people preventing a future bill they sponsor or is important to their constituents from being debated, amended and voted on.

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/senate-blocks-obama-jobs-bill/

cosmicrat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: re: How often do holds/filibusters/cloture really happen

“Voting for cloture because your party or leadership asks, but still opposing the measure happens all of the time. It just happened on the jobs bill.”

I’m very interesting in more info about this. Specifically: how often do holds occur? How many bills are on hold right now (and their are two kinds, regular, as Sen. Wyden’s is, and secret, as Sen. Wyden has opposed).

It was difficult to find this information on the web, is any site tracking this?

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ad Hom

Actually, given that just about everyone that has read PIPA or SOPA is either admatley against them or religiously for them….I think it is a fair statment to say the majority od Senators do not realize what is in the bill.

remeber average_joe, you are probably at least twices as intelligent as the average congressperson.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ad Hom

“Do you think Mike actually knows for a fact that these Senators do not “even realize what’s in the bill,” or do you think Mike is just making it up? Seems obvious to me that it’s the latter. And making up stuff is a sign of desperation.”

It seems obvious to you, huh? I guess that must make it so. But for clarification, do you have any evidence that Mike is just making stuff up? Any tangible proof to show he is incorrect and posting false information? Or are you making stuff up in a sad attempt to discredit Mike for whatever personal reasons you may have? You are aware that making stuff up is a sign of desperation, right? It’s true. I have a realiable (/s) source I can quote in regards to that.

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

I for one am glad Mike posted this. I’d had a conversation awhile back specifically about filibusters with a friend who was studying them for a certain class. He was making stuff up it sounded like, now I know he wasn’t. But he wasn’t on the mark either. This is something I can point to as an example and we can take the convo from there. Thanks for the informative article Mike.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ad Hom

But for clarification, do you have any evidence that Mike is just making stuff up? Any tangible proof to show he is incorrect and posting false information?

LOL! Of course he’s making it up. How in the world could he possibly know which Senators have read the bill and which ones have not? He can’t and he doesn’t. And Mike makes up stuff like this with alarming frequency. It’s hilarious and sad at the same time.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ron Paul told a story about when the Patriot Act was going through Congress initially. He asked the rep next to him what was in the bill that made him want to support it. The rep said he didn’t read the bill. So Paul asked why he was voting for it. The rep responded that he couldn’t vote against something call the Patriot Act because he wouldn’t be able to get re-elected. I am pretty sure that is how most operate in Congress except for the few who actually care what is in the bills the lobbyists write.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

LMAO @ Mike: Any Senator who supports PROTECT IP must not “even realize what’s in the bill.” Mike’s just making this stuff up he’s so desperate.

Masnick knows this is a lie. He has been to meetings on the Hill, he communicates with people who attends meetings on the Hill with members and their staffs who are listed as co-sponsors. He knows they realize what is in the bill. He just can’t bring himself to admit that understand exactly what is in the bill and support it anyway.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Masnick knows this is a lie. He has been to meetings on the Hill, he communicates with people who attends meetings on the Hill with members and their staffs who are listed as co-sponsors. He knows they realize what is in the bill. He just can’t bring himself to admit that understand exactly what is in the bill and support it anyway.

Actually, my meetings on the hill revealed exactly the opposite. There were certainly *some* people who got what was in the bill. But there were also *SPONSORS* of the bill who clearly had not read it, could not explain/did not know of key provisions and did not understand important points in the bill.

So, my knowledge of their ignorance of the content of the bill is first hand. I never said that was true of all supporters (nice of Average_joe to just make that bit up). But I can confirm that there are definitely sponsors who don’t know what’s in the bill.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So, my knowledge of their ignorance of the content of the bill is first hand. I never said that was true of all supporters (nice of Average_joe to just make that bit up).

You said: “there are plenty of out-of-touch Senators, who don’t even realize what’s in the bill and what its likely impact will be.” Obviously you are referring to the bill’s supporters, because I can’t for one second believe you would say anything bad about someone who was against the bill.

But I can confirm that there are definitely sponsors who don’t know what’s in the bill.

Name one. And by “know what’s in the bill,” you mean “don’t agree with your take on the bill,” right?

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

John Cornyn would be one. His aides recently tried to talk to some TX business owners who would be affected by the bill. Because of the wording, they had to agree to disagree on how the bill affects them. If Cornyn were interested in this bill to protect creators, he would have worked to clarify the law. But he had ignored all criticism of this bill. Considering how legislation works, NO one reads the bills, opting to put through a lot of bad legislation at once.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Cornyn is an original supporter of PIPA. He heard the criticism from the get-go and chose not to engage in any way with amending the bill. Also, he’s just like Marsha Blackburn, where he was against the rules for Net Neutrality.

From what I get with the Congressional aides that some TX content creators have said, the bill continues to have some misunderstandings.

I highly doubt that Cornyn, being a supporter, would actually have read the bill given his former stances on similar legislation.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

nore do they likely really care whats in the bill.

remember, most of them are going along with this because they know that if they piss off big content they wont get those fat “donation” checks(see payoffs) for their next election run, or they wont get that fat job offer when they decide to retire.

I have known many people who vote/voted without a clue about anything they where voting on, and I have seen many from congress admit they voted on the patriot act without even reading 1/10th of it(mostly because its so horrifically long and you have to spent so much time looking up references to federal laws) the same thing goes on here, there are people who ADMIT ON CAMARA that they do not understand the technology here, but are voting for it because “we need to do something” and their buddies in big content say its a good bill…

this bill passes, your gonna see alot of truly ticked off, angry people….

we may just see them both pass then a violent uprising…..cant say i would be sad about that….something needs to happen in DC before this becomes china mk2…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

we may just see them both pass then a violent uprising…..cant say i would be sad about that….something needs to happen in DC before this becomes china mk2…..

A violent uprising because you find it slightly harder to illegally download someone else’s work? Give me a break. It’s entertainment for Christ’s sake. The most vociferous opponents are probably Techdirtbag Nation and I don’t see any of you candy asses risking being tear gassed, Tasered, or catching a beatdown by the DC police. Christ, I’d be surprised if anyone of you could even hack it camping out in a tent for a weekend during a protest. And then of course, there’s the DC City Jail…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Cornyn is an original supporter of PIPA. He heard the criticism from the get-go and chose not to engage in any way with amending the bill. Also, he’s just like Marsha Blackburn, where he was against the rules for Net Neutrality.

Jay, do you not understand that Cornyn can’t offer an amendment to a bill that hasn’t hit the floor? What do you want him to do, rewrite parliamentary procedure for the Senate?

From what I get with the Congressional aides that some TX content creators have said, the bill continues to have some misunderstandings.

What does this mean? You “get” third hand that “the bill continues to have some misunderstandings”. The sentence doesn’t make any sense. Are you saying that Cornyn doesn’t personally understand or his aids don’t understand. Or are you trying to say that because his aids don’t understand, that must mean he doesn’t either.

I highly doubt that Cornyn, being a supporter, would actually have read the bill given his former stances on similar legislation.

Why do you doubt this? Has Cornyn stated that he hasn’t read this bill? Has Cornyn ever said that he hasn’t read a bill that he co-sponsored. Or is this just more of your baseless, conspiratorial speculation?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually, my meetings on the hill revealed exactly the opposite. There were certainly *some* people who got what was in the bill. But there were also *SPONSORS* of the bill who clearly had not read it, could not explain/did not know of key provisions and did not understand important points in the bill.

Really? Which co-sponsors of the PROTECT IP Act did you meet with? Was it actual Senators or staff? How much time did you spend talking about the nuts-and-bolts? And how did you draw the conclusion that they “of the bill who clearly had not read it, could not explain/did not know of key provisions and did not understand important points in the bill”.

robin (profile) says:

Use The Telephone

As in, if you’re horrified by this legislation, call your Senators and leave a message.

Being from Vermont, home to the embarrassing author Senator Leahy, I just called Senator Sanders and left this very polite message with the receptionist:

Hi, I live in Vermont and would like to leave a message for Senator Sanders. Please vote against Senator Reid’s cloture motion for S.968 when the Senate reconvenes later this month.

Dirt simple and very effective use of 3 minutes of your time. No need to explain anything in-depth, hold your rage at bay, just be friendly and short. At the end of the day, the office head will swing by and ask the receptionist for any tallies.

(oh, and amend for your state of course)

cosmicrat (profile) says:

Cynicism reigns in Congress

Congresspersons are not, on average, more intelligent than the kid who mows your lawn. They are elected because they are good looking (or were at one time), charismatic, and good at talking. It’s been pointed out numerous times how un-tech savvy the majority of our lawmakers are -I am appalled that some of them would brag about their ignorance while debating such an important issue!

On Capitol Hill, only one thing matters more than constituent’s opinions: campaign contributions. And the entertainment lobby is making a lot of them.

zeeBat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Cynicism reigns in Congress

The support is strong with this one.

It’s a horrible bill and its existence is indicative of a horrible path.

Gateway people are opening the gates of destruction and representatives seems to be functioning on the same short-sited level as they are.

Enjoy the walk but next time, if we will be so lucky, perhaps you should choose curtain number two.

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