Senate Filibuster Is Alive And Well

It seems that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has acquiesced in his strategy to end the filibuster, aka the nuclear option, by changing the rules where a simple majority would be needed to end debate. It also seems that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Reid are beginning to show signs of getting along to work together. Well, for now anyways. I mean, when your back is against the wall, you begin to become a little more cooperative. And by all accounts, the mid-term elections put Reid’s back against the wall.

Some things that were accomplished in the Senate yesterday . . .

1) Reid’s effort to kill the filibuster, which is the minority’s right to effect legislation, went down in flames in the final rules changes on Thursday. Both agreed to never try again to use the nuclear option, which is to change the rules of the Senate with only 51 votes, instead of the established 67 vote margin. Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall and realizing what goes around comes around, Marty Gold, a former senate leadership aide, said ‘The rules compromise reached today will look like a half-measure to the liberal blogosphere. But if Democrats go into the minority in two years, liberals will be happy for this day.’

2) The senate also ended the practice of secret ‘holds.’  The resolution to end secret holds, which passed 92-4, states that a Senator must publicly disclose a notice of intent to object to any measure or matter.

3) The two leaders agreed to not use two important procedural methods as often in order to preserve the great rights of the Senate: to amend and to debate. McConnell agreed that the Republicans would use the filibuster less often in this Congress. In return, Reid agreed to be less active in filling up the amendment tree to block out all Republican amendments.

The Majority Leader has the power to add the maximum amount of amendments to the tree, which locks out any amendments by the minority party. Reid agreed to not use up all the amendments, so that the Republicans can offer their alternatives to legislation. Over the past two years, Reid has used his power to fill up the amendment tree drastically more often than had been done in the past. “The Majority Leader used that power to cut off all amendments and debate 44 times. That’s more than the last 6 majority leaders combined,” said Sen. Alexander on the floor.

Senator Alexander summed up yesterday’s resolution this way . . .

“What they have done…is create a window in which we have had a good, open discussion about the kind of place we want to work, the kind of Senate we hope would serve the American people the best,” said Alexander.

“And we have come to a consensus about a change in behavior, which I believe, in the end, will be more important than the change in the rules,” he said.

Link: Reid’s Rules Scheme Defeated in the Senate

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