With a depleted majority expected next January, Democrats will have a decision to make: accept (no) business as usual in the Senate; or change the rules to erode Republicans' ability to obstruct legislation. It's an issue that few in the caucus are prepared to grapple with, and many would prefer to ignore, but a cadre of Democratic freshman plan to force it on day one of the 112th Congress. At stake will likely be the functioning of the federal government, and the party's ability to restore the economy and deliver on their agenda. Yet despite such a stark choice, some in their own party are encouraging them to back off, and even supporters are damping expectations of success.
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The leader of the push for rules reform is Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), whose black cowboy boots and western twang complement his rebellious streak: he thinks the Senate is enamored of itself, hostile to change, and that it's time for all that to end.
"You have to be responsive to what you see, and what you see is a broken institution, and you have to reform that institution," Udall told TPMDC in his Senate office this week.