"The Senate approved a historic change in the filibuster rule last night after seven weeks of angry debate. It voted 56 to 27 to reduce the number of senators needed to cut off a filibuster from two-thirds of those present and voting to a permanent "constitutional" three-fifths (60 senators)."
This change was even more extreme than it seems at first glance... it did not merely change the cloture threshold from 67 to 60... it changed it from a RELATIVE PERCENTAGE to an ABSOLUTE PERSENTAGE!
Note the phrase "two-thirds of those present and voting". That meant that cloture could be voted by as few as 34 Senators... two-thirds of the official Senate Quorum of 51 Senators!!! They didn't LOWER THE BAR... they RAISED IT!
The Washington Post was spinning the truth even in 1975. This article should read:
"The Senate approved a historic change in the filibuster rule last night after seven weeks of angry debate. It voted 56 to 27 to INCREASE the number of senators needed to cut off a filibuster from two-thirds of those present and voting, (34 senators of the Senate's quorum of 51), to a permanent "constitutional" three-fifths (60 senators)."
And for those freepers who have been screaming for a "real filibuster" this is an important point as to why it hasn't happened since 1975.
The minority party only needs to keep one person in the Senate now, whereas the majority party needs to keep at least 50 present during a filibuster. That's definitely a greater hurdle for the majority party.
With the old rules, the minority party always had to keep at least 2/3 of members present, which at 50 means at least 26 to keep it from passing. That represents a greater hardship. In addition, it allowed the majority party to have fewer people there and still maintain a quorum.
You're right on the money...that's the part that often gets overlooked. It means the margin between quorum and overrule is slim...allowing dissenters to walk out to avoid cloture.
The more philosophical import of this is that it provides DISincentive to continuing discussion and debate. Our Senate is supposed to be deliberative, but this rule change made it a smart move to leave the Senate to get your way.