- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Reid still vowing filibuster changes
Will proceed with or without GOP
The Nevada Democrat, who has accused Republicans of excessively and unfairly using the filibuster to block legislation and presidential nominees, has been trying to broker a compromise in recent weeks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
Mr. Reid told reporters Tuesday afternoon he has had some “positive meetings” with Mr. McConnell regarding filibuster reforms and hoped to reach a deal within the “next 24 to 36 hours.” But the majority leader added that, “if not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done.”
Rule changes typically require a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, in the 100-member Senate, except on the first day of a new Congress, when changes can be done with a simple majority. But Mr. Reid has used a parliamentary tactic that allows him to officially extend the first day of Congress indefinitely — thus preserving the so-called “nuclear” or “constitutional” option to change Senate rules with only 51 votes.
Mr. Reid said he prefers a negotiated deal. But when asked directly if he would try to force filibuster reforms with only a simple majority if talks with Mr. McConnell broke down, the Democrat flatly said, “Yes.”
Mr. Reid added his caucus supports him on the matter.
The filibuster, which has a long history in the Senate but which doesn’t exist in the House, is a procedural move used to stall or block bills or nominees and requires at least 60 votes to overcome — a near-impossible scenario with the Democratic caucus’ slim majority since 2009.
The Constitution says nothing about the filibuster, which came into use as a way to ensure the minority party had time to weigh in on important legislation. In the past century, cloture rules to limit debate began being introduced.
Democrats have accused Mr. McConnell of abusing the rule, saying he has used it so excessively it has mired the chamber in historic gridlock. The Kentucky Republican has countered he is left with no choice because Mr. Reid often refuses to allow many — or any — Republican amendments to legislation.
Some Democrats have pushed a proposal that would require the minority party to get 41 votes to stall a bill or nominee. Currently, the majority must secure 60 votes to end a filibuster.
“The abuse of the filibuster and other procedural rules has prevented the U.S. Senate from doing its job,” said Sen. Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat. “We are no longer ‘the world’s greatest deliberative body.’ In fact, we barely deliberate at all.”
Mr. Udall, along with Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Sen. Angus S. King Jr., Maine independent, have sponsored a bill that would severely restrict the ability to filibuster bringing a bill to the floor — though it would still allow for a filibuster to prevent the bill from passing.
The bill also seeks to force senators who want to block legislation to hold the floor and talk. Such a move, known as a “talking filibuster,” was the historic norm and the grist for movies about politics. In recent years, though, the practice evolved so that senators only have to say they are filibustering without actually having to hold the floor and talk endlessly.
“Under the abuse of the current rules, all it takes to filibuster is one senator picking up the phone. Period,” Mr. Udall said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at email@example.com.
- GOP tests Democrats on college loan issue
- Lawmakers outside intelligence loop get miffed about briefing structure in Congress
- John Boehner: Time is right to bring latest farm bill to House floor
- Supreme Court nears rulings on key voting rights cases
- John Boehner demands answers on NSA, phone records
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Extra charge on the bill reminds everyone who's paying
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- BRUCE: Obama's bizarre immigration rules
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- Two liberals say Sarah Palin is right: Obama lacks substance
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- 'Holy grail of guitars' among those in N.Y. auction
- IRS to turn over Lerner emails in tea party targeting probe
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again