My colleague Patricia Kilday Hart posted an item yesterday about Democratic reaction to the Ogden rider prohibiting state funds from being used to support embryonic stem cell research. Hart quoted Judith Zaffirini as saying, “[T]here are some members so upset there has been discussion of blocking the appropriations bill if this rider remains in it.”
It won’t work. If the Democrats try to block the budget in the regular session, Perry will have to call a special session, and the appropriations bill will be at the top of the calendar, exempt from the two-thirds rule. What’s more, the Republicans will surely adopt special orders for the 2011 session giving the appropriations bill (and redistricting) a get out of jail free card, as was done for Voter ID bill.
The Senate has become the House: a legislative body in which the majority has the votes and the will to run over the minority. If the Democrats attempt to act as a block, the Republicans will wire around them. The majority will never let the two-thirds rule prevent them from passing their agenda on a partisan issue. There may be some nonpartisan issues on which the two-thirds rule will still matter, but on any partisan issue, it’s dead.