The Democratic senator who led the charge to “nuke” a portion of the filibuster in 2013 expressed cautious optimism at the news that Republicans were now taking their own look at tinkering with Senate procedural rules, now that they are in the majority.
In a statement to TPM, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said he was “pleased that the Senate leadership is taking seriously the need to modernize the Senate’s rules to restore the Senate’s ability to debate and deliberate.”
“As I said on the floor recently, with the control of the Presidency and the Senate after 2016 up in the air, now is the perfect time to talk about what rules will make the Senate work better for both the majority and the minority. I look forward to continuing that dialogue,” the statement continued.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has created a taskforce of GOP senators to take a look at tweaking Senate procedural rules so the Republican Senate majority faces fewer obstacles in advancing its legislation. The move was a reversal of sorts, as McConnell has previously been reluctant to weaken the filibuster and slammed then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for dismantling the filibuster for executive and judicial branch nominees (with exception of Supreme Court appointees) in 2013. Now, however, McConnell faces the wrath of a recalcitrant caucus in the House frustrated that their conservative agenda hasn’t been able to overcome Democratic filibusters in the Senate.
Merkley was an outspoken supporter of reforming Senate rules when Democrats were the majority in the upper chamber and faced similar tactics by Republicans.