Is momentum building for Senate Democrats to change the filibuster rules, following the past two years in which Senate GOPers used their reduced numbers to throw up more procedural blocks than in any past Congress?
As Greg Sargent reports:
At a caucus meeting this week attended only by Senators and no staff, Reid and fellow Dems devoted a significant chunk of time to a discussion about specific ideas on how to proceed, the aide says.
“They are already talking it through and devising a plan,” the aide said of Reid and fellow Dems, adding that Reid is having “conversations” with other members of the caucus “about the best way to move forward.”
Sargent reports that various ideas have made the rounds, including efforts to do away with the modern phony filibuster and force Senators to actually talk on the floor. But how would they change the rules? Sargent reports: “Dems are also coalescing behind the so-called ‘constitutional option,’ which has it that each new Congress has the right to set its own rules by simple majority vote.”[TPM SLIDESHOW: Block That Bill: A History Of The Filibuster]
This news follows National Journal’s report that all returning Democratic Senators had signed a letter to Reid, spearheaded by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), urging he should consider taking action:
While it does not urge a specific solution, Democrats said it demonstrates increased backing in the majority for a proposal, championed by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and others, to weaken the minority’s ability to tie the Senate calendar into parliamentary knots.
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.
At the very least, it looks like Dems are gearing up to even talk about the topic in a serious way.