BREAKING: Senate Filibuster Reform Package

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January 5, 2011 7:21 am
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Here are the specific filibuster reforms that Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), will be pushing beginning this afternoon, obtained by TPM. Spoiler: they include at least one little-discussed item meant to appeal to the minority.

As promised, Udall proposes ending secret holds and the right of the minority to filibuster the start of debate, and demanding the “talking” filibuster.

But, according to documents provided by Udall’s office in advance of his floor speech, it also includes a proposal that guarantees both parties the right to amend legislation — limiting the majority leader’s power to “fill the amendment tree” and block extended debate.“This provision addresses comments of Republicans at last year’s Rules Committee hearings,” the summary reads. “Each time Democrats raised concerns about filibusters on motions to proceed, Republicans responded that it was their only recourse because the Majority Leader fills the amendment tree and prevents them from offering amendments. Our resolution provides a simple solution – it guarantees the minority the right to offer germane amendments.”

According to the resolution, both the majority leader and the minority leader would have the right to offer up to three germane amendments, with one hour of debate apiece.

At first blush, this isn’t a huge encroachment on the majority leader’s prerogative, but it does guarantee the minority an opportunity to change legislation, which they currently don’t have once the tree has been filled.

It also includes a provision to limit the amount of time the Senate spends debating nominees after the filibuster’s been broken. “Post cloture time is meant for debating and voting on amendments – something that is not possible on nominations. Instead, the minority now requires the Senate use this time simply to prevent it from moving on to other business.”

Read the summary document here. Read the full text of the legislation here.

[Ed note: The article was updated after initial publication.]

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