Dem Senators Push Common Sense Filibuster Reform
Claire McCaskill and other centrist Dems appear to be pushing hard next year for some pretty straightforward steps that create more transparency and accountability when the opposition tries to filibuster. And remember…Dems are they’re likely to lose more seats in 2012…so it’s not like this really helps them if they’re in the minority.
All Democratic senators returning next year have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging him to consider action to change long-sacrosanct filibuster rules. […]
Among the chief revisions that Democrats say will likely be offered: Senators could not initiate a filibuster of a bill before it reaches the floor unless they first muster 40 votes for it, and they would have to remain on the floor to sustain it. That is a change from current rules, which require the majority leader to file a cloture motion to overcome an anonymous objection to a motion to proceed, and then wait 30 hours for a vote on it.
“There need to be changes to the rules to allow filibusters to be conducted by people who actually want to block legislation instead of people being able to quietly say ‘I object’ and go home,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
So how will they do it?
The fact that every returning Democrat signed the letter circulated by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Mark Warner, D-Va., urging changes underscores growing determination on the part of the Senate’s majority to raise the bars for filibusters.
Adding to the momentum for change, say proponents, is a push by Udall to seek a simple majority vote on changing Senate rules at the start of the session, rather than a two-thirds majority, that is gaining steam. Such a move could come at the start of next Congress, shortly after the Senate returns on January 5th.
And the opposition seems open to it…
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart asserted that Democrats would regret any alteration of rules when they find themselves in the minority, although he said that a limitation on cloture time used for a motion to proceed would be a relatively insignificant move.
So do we have a deal? Let’s hope so…