Blegging for information: the Senate rules and the Webb proviso

It looks to me as if the Senate Democrats can make the Webb Proviso stick with 51 votes, but the newspapers say they need 60. Can someone explain my error?

Despite my elegant and pellucid demonstration that the Webb proviso, if attached to the Defense Appropriation, needs only 51 votes in the Senate, this NYT story, reflecting what seem to be both Democratic and Republican tactical views, assumes that Webb needs 60 votes.

Admittedly, I don’t know the Senate rules as well as I know the House rules, and I don’t know the House rules as well as I did thirty years ago, when I worked on the Hill. But this seems fairly elementary, and yet either I have it grossly wrong or everyone else does. Can some expert straighten me out?

Footnote Actually, my claim is stronger. If the leadership on both sides stands firm, and appoints complaisant conferees, the Webb proviso would need only a majority in one House or the other. If it passes either House, it can become part of the Conference report, which isn’t amendable. So opponents of the Webb provision would have to vote against the entire Defense Appropriation, or send the bill to the President. Either way, the onus of holding up money for the troops is squarely on the imperialists.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: