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January 24, 2013

Reid Considering Incredibly Watered Down Bipartisan Rules Reform. Update: Deal Reached

Posted in: Broken Government

Sen. Harry Reid, weak as water

Update: Reid has reached the deal with McConnell.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is close to reaching a bipartisan deal with Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on changing the Senate rules. To even call this package of incredibly minor changes “reform” requires stretching the definition of the word almost to its breaking point. Almost nothing of significance will be changed.

It currently sounds like the package won’t end the filibuster, the absurd practice by which a de facto 60 vote threshold is now required for almost everything. It wouldn’t force a “talking filibuster,” which would at least require the minority to continuously hold the floor if they want to stop a vote. It wouldn’t even flip the burden for ending a filibuster, so instead of it requiring 60 votes to end debate, it would take 41 votes to sustain it.

Basically all it would do is slightly reduce the time wasted on procedural actions. From TPM:

The deal, which is not yet final, makes very modest changes. It would permit the majority to bypass a filibuster on the motion to proceed to debate — if a group of senators on each side agree or if there’s a guarantee that both sides will get to offer amendments, the sources said Wednesday evening. [...]

The emerging accord is a major step away from the Merkley-Udall “talking filibuster” plan which would have required a filibustering minority to occupy the floor and speak ceaselessly until one side gives in. It’s also more modest than Reid’s middle-path proposal to McConnell, which would have shifted the burden from a majority seeking to advance legislation and nominations to a minority seeking to block them.

If Senate Democrats actually vote for this worthless package instead of actual reform they will be effectively choosing to cede their power to the Republican Party. Democrats have won a majority in the Senate and can fully control it as the Constitution intended. Voting for this package is voting to give the Republican minority a veto they did not earn at the ballot box.

Photo by Talk Radio News Service under Creative Commons license


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