The U.S. Senate: “Gangsta’s Paradise”

When six become five.

No. This isn't the title of a Spice Girls song.

But the Senate's Gang of Six, devoted to breaking an impasse over spending and the debt limit, is now the Gang of Five.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., dropped out Tuesday, leaving Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho as the remaining members.

The United States Senate may be known as "The World's Most Exclusive Club." But it's also "Gangsta's Paradise."

Even Coolio would be proud.

The proliferation of Senate "gangs," ad-hoc coalitions of senators devoted to solving seemingly intractable legislative problems, could probably rival South Central Los Angeles.

Gangs are part of the fabric of the Senate.

The late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., was a kingpin of the "Gang of 14," a coalition of senators which blocked GOP efforts to eliminate filibusters in 2005.

Efforts to reform immigration brought together House Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in what was known as "The Gang of 12" some years ago.

Not everyone likes gangs. At the time, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., derided that group as believing they were "masters of the universe."

Legislative gangs just don't throw up their signs and spray paint parliamentary graffiti on the hallowed walls of the U.S. Senate, either. Gangs sometimes stake their turf in the House as well.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, built his street cred in the early 1990s. Boehner, along with potential presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., were part of the fabled "Gang of Seven." That gang made its mark by stirring up investigations into the House Bank and the House Post Office.

In the bank scandal, it was discovered that 450 current or former lawmakers over-drafted their accounts. Several former lawmakers and the House Sergeant-at-Arms served time.

The House Post Office Scandal culminated with powerful House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., going to jail.

So watch your step when you visit the halls of Congress. You just never know whose gang turf you're trodding on.