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Direckshun 11-26-2012 11:38 PM

Filibuster Reform Is Upon Us
 
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Not really.

Harry Reid is seeking two reforms: kill the filibuster of the motion to proceed, and turn the non-speaking filibuster back into the speaking filibuster.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...0ab3_blog.html

Full speed ahead on filibuster reform?
By Greg Sargent
Posted at 05:04 PM ET, 11/26/2012

On the Senate floor today, Harry Reid offered the clearest confirmation yet that he will move forward with filibuster reform at the start of the new Congress. He confirmed he is proposing to “do away with filibusters on the motion to proceed,” which was already known. He added that under proposed reforms, Senators who want to filibuster will have to “stand up and talk about it.” That means Reid supports the “talking filibuster,” the proposal to force filibustering out into the open — on the theory that this will make it politically more difficult.

There’s some debate over whether the latter proposal is likely to be effective. Jonathan Bernstein has argued that it’s absurd to imagine that Republicans would balk at publicly holding the floor.

That aside, now that there will be a massive spin war over the meaning of reform — Mitch McConnell railed today that Dems are planning a “naked power grab” — it’s worth reiterating that there is a set of actual facts about GOP filibustering and the Dem response to it that shouldn’t get lost in all the false equivalence BS we’re certain to hear:

1) The extent of GOP filibustering is unprecedented. This chart shows that cloture motions (a rough measure of filibustering) suddenly spiked during the Obama years. Yes, they also spiked in 2007-2008, but according to Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein, the vast majority of those filibusters were mounted by Republicans, presumably to block legislation designed to embarrass George W. Bush. (Indeed, the motions to end filibusters during that period were filed mostly by Dems.)

2) The nature of GOP filibustering is unprecedented. Ornstein says this is true in two ways: First, in the extensive blockading of what used to be considered routine Senate business. And second, much of the filibustering is part of a concerted party strategy. “You’re not just looking at filibusters done by rogue senators or factions, like southern Democrats in the 1950s,” says Ornstein. “It’s the first time we’ve had a wide range of filibustering by a whole party.”

3) Filibuster reform would not do away with the minority’s ability to filibuster. The “talking filibuster” reform and the nixing of the filibuster on the motion to proceed would only make it harder to use procedural tactics, under cover of darkness, for the explicit purpose of stalling the Upper Chamber’s business. The minority would still be able to block the will of a simple majority on the vote to end debate. These are not very meaningful restrictions on the “rights” of the minority.

At any rate, now that Reid has made such a vocal push, it’s hard to imagine that Dems won’t move forward on day one of the new session to change the rules with a simple majority vote. Looks like it’s on.

***************************************

UPDATE: It’s also possible that unilateral action on the rules by Democrats to change the filibuster may not happen, if Dems and Republicans reach a deal. As Ornstein emails me:

Quote:

In 1975, we had the threat of one party action to change the rule, and it led to a bipartisan compromise. That could happen this time, despite the rhetoric — a bipartisan move to eliminate filibusters on the motion to proceed, a few more changes, and in return, a guarantee for the minority on at least some amendments on bills.

RINGLEADER 11-27-2012 02:17 AM

This is an absolutely stupid idea.

The continued watering down of the Constitutional checks and balances.

Sometimes it's better when congress does nothing when it's unwilling to compromise.

craneref 11-27-2012 04:31 AM

Maybe they were trying to stall so they had time to read at least PART of the bills before having to vote on it??

banyon 11-27-2012 06:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RINGLEADER (Post 9155953)
This is an absolutely stupid idea.

The continued watering down of the Constitutional checks and balances.

Sometimes it's better when congress does nothing when it's unwilling to compromise.

Is this serious?

Direckshun 11-27-2012 06:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RINGLEADER (Post 9155953)
This is an absolutely stupid idea.

The continued watering down of the Constitutional checks and balances.

Sometimes it's better when congress does nothing when it's unwilling to compromise.

Checks and balances refers to balancing between the branches.

And the filibuster isn't constitutional. It's not unconstitutional, it's just not mentioned in the Constitution. It's a procedure invented and enforced by the Senate, and basically Reid is just suggesting we change the rule back to what it used to be a decade or two ago.

Direckshun 11-27-2012 06:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by banyon (Post 9156064)
Is this serious?

It most likely is, yes.

FD 11-27-2012 07:57 AM

I agree with returning to the true filibuster system. Let the minority have that ability to stop things, but make them stand on the floor and defend it, not just anonymously place a hold on anything and everything. I'm glad the Dems have come around on filibuster reform after fighting it in 2006.

KC Dan 11-27-2012 01:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9156067)
Checks and balances refers to balancing between the branches.

And the filibuster isn't constitutional. It's not unconstitutional, it's just not mentioned in the Constitution. It's a procedure invented and enforced by the Senate, and basically Reid is just suggesting we change the rule back to what it used to be a decade or two ago.

Mabe Reid, Clinton, Obama and others should check and replay what they stated very publically 6 years ago when the repubs tried this. Better yet, how about ALL the media replay what they stated. F'n hypocrites, all of them

Direckshun 11-27-2012 01:39 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...connell-fears/

What Mitch McConnell fears
Ezra Klein
November 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Steve Benen asks a sensible question: Harry Reid’s proposed filibuster reforms are quite modest. If they pass wholesale, the 60-vote supermajority requirement will remain unchanged. So why’s he so steamed?

I’ve asked Senate staff the same question, and I’ve gotten, in general, three answers.

First, moving to a “talking filibuster” is not seen as the minor tweak that some – including me — have made it out to be. True, it doesn’t change the fact that the Senate is now a 60-vote institution. But it does make the life of an obstructing minority much harder. Given the size of the Republican minority, to fill a day-long filibuster, every senator would have to be up and speaking for at least half an hour, and a critical mass of minority senators would have to be in the chamber at all times. Coordinating that kind of action among 45 senators who’ve got fundraisers and flights and out-of-town family and who usually don’t stay in Washington even for a full week at a time is no small task.

Second, speeding up the time it takes to break a filibuster reduces McConnell’s power to slow the Senate down, which has been a significant element of his strategy. Again, it doesn’t change the number of votes needed at the end of the day, but it does make it easier for Democrats to move through their agenda when they do have the votes.

Third and most importantly, the real fight, according to a number of Senate sources, is simply the effort to use the so-called “constitutional option” to change the Senate’s rules with 51 votes rather than 67. If you look at McConnell’s blistering speech Monday, that’s actually what he focuses on first:

Quote:

Let me explain in a little more detail what’s being proposed. What this small group of primarily Senate sophomores is now proposing is that when the Senate gavels in at the beginning of the new Congress, a bare majority of senators can disregard the rule that says changes to the Senate’s rules can only be approved on the same broad bipartisan basis we reserve for approving treaties and overriding presidential vetoes, a supermajority-plus. Lyndon Johnson once said of the 67-vote threshold for change to the rules that it, quote, “preserves indisputably the character of the Senate as the one continuing body in our policymaking process.” End quote. And Senator Reid himself once described changing the Senate procedure by majority fiat as, quote, “Breaking the rules to change the rules.”
Of course, Reid made that comment — which is undoubtedly hypocritical in light of his current plans — when McConnell was proposing to, well, change the rules using a majority vote. Here’s what McConnell was saying at the time:

Quote:

This is not the first time a minority of Senators has upset a Senate tradition or practice, and the current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done — use its constitutional authority under article I, section 5, to reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote.
As McConnell says, many rules have been changed using a majority vote, and no one doubts that the Senate can change its rules through a majority vote. But if Democrats use the procedure on a relatively high-profile agenda item like filibuster reform, the question for McConnell is when, and whether, it will stop.

Arguably, that shouldn’t be a particularly big deal. Republicans control the House right now, and they likely will for the near future. So if McConnell actually thought Republicans were going to retake the Senate and the White House anytime soon, he might see the diminishment of the filibuster and the institution of an easier threshold to change Senate rules, at a moment when he won’t get blamed for it and when there are few consequences, as a boon to the coming era of Republican reign.

But Senate Republicans have thrown away two prime opportunities to retake control of the chamber (2013 and 2012), and there’s a dawning sense among the GOP that the demographics might be tilted against them for the foreseeable future. If that’s true, then McConnell is wise to fight this out as if he’ll be in the minority forever, rather than tempering his concern as minority leader with his incentives as a future majority leader. A world in which McConnell’s only tool will be obstruction is a world in which it’s a real problem if Senate Democrats feel empowered to change the rules with 51 votes. Sure, the reforms Reid’s proposing now are modest, but what about the reforms that he’ll propose three years from now?

cosmo20002 11-27-2012 02:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RINGLEADER (Post 9155953)
This is an absolutely stupid idea.

The continued watering down of the Constitutional checks and balances.

Sometimes it's better when congress does nothing when it's unwilling to compromise.

Uh, no. Not even close.

Chocolate Hog 11-27-2012 02:54 PM

Is Ezra Klein Direcks brother? He always quotes dude.

whoman69 11-27-2012 03:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RINGLEADER (Post 9155953)
This is an absolutely stupid idea.

The continued watering down of the Constitutional checks and balances.

Sometimes it's better when congress does nothing when it's unwilling to compromise.

Filibuster is not in the Constitution. It wasn't created until the early 1800s. It was certainly not what the founding fathers had in mind.

donkhater 11-27-2012 06:09 PM

My understanding is that the prolific use of the filibuster by the GOP was in response to Reid not allowing amendments to bills in by Republicans before they came out of committees. If Reid is shutting them out of the process of creating bills, why shouldn't they filibuster?

BTW, I wonder what the outrage from the left will be when they find themselves in the minority in the future?

Direckshun 11-27-2012 06:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by donkhater (Post 9157807)
My understanding is that the prolific use of the filibuster by the GOP was in response to Reid not allowing amendments to bills in by Republicans before they came out of committees. If Reid is shutting them out of the process of creating bills, why shouldn't they filibuster?

Republicans were attempting to put in poison pill amendments to make bills unpassable. Reid oftentimes shut that out.

That's a common tactic by a minority, and a common tactic by a majority.

What was uncommon was how frequently that led to a filibuster.

theelusiveeightrop 11-27-2012 06:20 PM

Senate makes their own rules governing how they conduct business inside the Senate. Constitution has nothing to with it. 100 of the most overpaid people in the country though.


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