Friday, January 25, 2013

Harry Reid: "I'm Not Ready...To Get Rid Of The 60-Vote Threshold"

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats had the chance to reform the filibuster, whose abuse by today's GOP is greatly responsible for Congressional gridlock and dysfunction. While a bipartisan agreement resulted in modest rule changes, the bottom line for this mediocre deal is that the Republican minority can still force a 60-vote supermajority for advancing bills. Ezra Klein spoke to Reid:

“I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” Reid (D-Nev.) told me this morning, referring to the number of votes needed to halt a filibuster. “With the history of the Senate, we have to understand the Senate isn’t and shouldn’t be like the House.”

...The agreement...limits the number of times you can filibuster a bill after both the House and the Senate have agreed to it, and it limits the post-filibuster period on most nominations from 30 hours to two hours. Both reforms will speed the pace of the Senate a bit — the limit on post-cloture debate for nominations is particularly welcome among reformers — but neither is anything close to a game-changer. The question among some reformers, then, is what happened?

...I asked Reid whether he really thought the filibuster could survive in a Senate where, in truth, the majority leader, alongside 49 other senators and the vice president, could change any rule they wanted.

“The only way we’ll get rid of the filibuster is if it continues to be abused,” he said. “Hopefully, what we’ll do here will stop some of the abuse, but what will happen if the minority continues to abuse the rules is we won’t get rid of the filibuster, but we’ll go to something like what [Sen. Tom] Harkin has pushed, where one vote is at 57, and then another vote is at 55.”

But for now, Republicans have little to fear. The filibuster is safe. Even filibusters against the motion to proceed are safe. And filibuster reformers have lost once again.


Michael The Molar Maven said...

This was a huge mistake. Democrats fear that one day they may be in the minority and want to reserve the right to wreak as much havoc on the legislative process as the Republicans have done recently. Someone has to display some courage; but that someone does not reside within this congress.

Jeff Tone said...

Agreed. Tremendous disappointment. That courage apparently doesn't reside with Reid. His backing down guarantees the continued dysfunction of our political system.