Intended by the Founders to serve as a “check” on the popularly elected House of Representatives, process and procedure in the Senate has a far different emphasis from in the House. While the House’s institutional bias emphasizes efficiency, the Senate’s encourages deliberation and debate. It can be said that the fundamental rule in the House is “Whoever has 218 votes wins,” while the rule in the Senate differs: “There’s nothing you can do without 60 votes.” While the House is designed as a majoritarian institution, the Senate is structurally designed to protect the rights of the Minority by requiring super-majority votes for many procedural motions. This means that in any Senate where the majority party has less than a 10% margin, the ability of the Minority to demand concessions is greatly enhanced.
Basic Training — Senate Procedure from a House Perspective
September 12, 2011