On the Decision of the Chair PN527: Patricia Ann Millett, of Virginia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit
This vote invoked the "nuclear option" in which the Senate's rules for cloture were revised by a simple majority vote.
Prior to this vote, cloture on presidential nominations required a 3/5ths threshold of all elected senators, the same threshold as for legislation. Sen. Harry Reid raised a point of order that "cloture under rule XXII for all nominations other than for the Supreme Court of the United States is by [simple] majority vote." Reid's point of order was incorrect: A plain reading of the rules required a 3/5th majority, not a simple majority. But Reid raised the point of order to force a vote.
The chair ruled against Reid's point of order. In this vote, the Senate votes on the chair's decision. A vote in favor is a for the chair's decision, that the Senate's rules remain as plainly written. A vote against was a vote in support of Reid's point of order, in which the rules of the Senate are considered to require a simple majority --- putting aside the plain language of the rules.
The vote failed, overruling the chair, and making Reid's interpretation of the rules the new rules for cloture. Although Reid's point of order maintained the 3/5ths threshold for Supreme Court nominations, this was changed through the same procedural method in a vote on April 6, 2017.
Decision of Chair Not Sustained. Simple Majority Required. Source: senate.gov.
The Nay votes represented 55% of the country’s population by apportioning each state’s population to its voting senators.
“Aye” and “Yea” mean the same thing, and so do “No” and “Nay”. Congress uses different words in different sorts of votes.
The U.S. Constitution says that bills should be decided on by the “yeas and nays” (Article I, Section 7). Congress takes this literally and uses “yea” and “nay” when voting on the final passage of bills.
All Senate votes use these words. But the House of Representatives uses “Aye” and “No” in other sorts of votes.
Statistically Notable Votes
Statistically notable votes are the votes that are most surprising, or least predictable, given how other members of each voter’s party voted and other factors.
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What was the procedure for this vote?
- What was this vote on?
Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.
What is your analysis of this vote?
- What trends do you see in this vote?
- How did your senators vote?
- How much of the United States population is represented by the yeas?
Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?
There are two votes here that should be more important to you than all the others. These are the votes cast by your senators, which are meant to represent you and your community. Do you agree with how your senators voted? Why do you think they voted the way they did?
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GovTrack displays the percentage of the United States population represented by the yeas on some Senate votes just under the vote totals. We do this to highlight how the people of the United States are represented in the Senate. Since each state has two senators, but state populations vary significantly, the individuals living in each state have different Senate representation. For example, California’s population of near 40 million is given the same number of senators as Wyoming’s population of about 600,000.
Do the senators who voted yea represent a majority of the people of the United States? Does it matter?
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