SocraticGadfly: Is filibuster reform just around the corner?

December 24, 2010

Is filibuster reform just around the corner?

Could the filibuster finally get reformed? Senate Democrats made a unanimous noise in that direction, with the exception of the none-too-soon departing Chris "Housing Stud" Dodd.
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.

Secret "holds" also could be eliminated under the proposed changes in Senate procedures. Holds would still be allowed, but not in private.

Boy, Harry Reid has had as successful a lame-duck session in terms of political skills as Obama has, arguably. Does he want to roll the dice Jan. 5?

That said, it's ultimately not Reid's call; he's not the Speaker of the Senate. And, IIRC, to the best of my knowledge, the man who is the presiding officer, Vice President Joe Biden, has never been "warm" about such reforms. With a smaller Democratic majority this time around, too, it could be hard to do.

And, outside of a Mark Udall, a Jeff Merkley and a Tom Harkin, where the hell were the rest of you 23 months ago?

Update, Dec. 24: Merkley speaks with Ezra Klein about his "modest proposal." Near the end, he notes that without the current pseudo-filibustering, Obamacare would have been four separate bills.

Surely, on at least one of those four parts, moderate Republicans might have been able to get changes they didn't to an omnibus bill. Hence, they're occasionally shooting themselves in the foot.

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