Jan 24 2013

Congressional Game of Chicken: Filibuster,” the Dead Hand of the Past”

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Reports are coming that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have reach a deal on watered down reform of filibuster.

Progressive senators working to dramatically alter Senate rules were defeated on Thursday, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), set to announce a series of compromise reforms on the Senate floor that fall far short of the demands. [..]

The deal will address the filibuster on the motion to proceed by changing the amount of debate time that would follow a cloture vote from 30 hours to four, speeding up Senate business and allowing more legislation to reach the floor. But the deal still requires Democrats to muscle 60 votes to invoke cloture on that motion, despite Reid’s earlier suggestion that he would bar a filibuster on that motion entirely.

An alternate route to get past the motion to proceed will be implemented as a change to the rules, and a filibuster on the motion would be barred if the majority can find eight members of the minority, including the minority leader, to sign a petition. But Democrats already have 55 members in their caucus, five short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster, so it’s unclear what the purpose of getting three additional Republicans would be.

Under the agreement, the minority party will be able to offer two amendments on each bill, a major concession to Republicans. This change is made only as a standing order, not a rules change, and expires at the end of the term.

The new rules will also make it easier for the majority to appoint conferees once a bill has passed, but leaves in place the minority’s ability to filibuster that motion once — meaning that even after the Senate and House have passed a bill, the minority can still mount a filibuster one more time.

Huffington Post has obtained copies of the language of the deal. It can be read  here (pdf) and here (pdf).

On “The Ed Show,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined Ed Schultz to to share his thoughts on Reid’s plan and whether or not he’ll support it.

This is a incredibly disappointing deal but not unexpected coming from Sen. Reid. As Jon Walker at FDL Action noted, this is a concession of power to the minority Republicans:

If Senate Democrats actually vote for this worthless package instead of actual reform they will be effectively choosing to cede their power to the Republican Party. Democrats have won a majority in the Senate and can fully control it as the Constitution intended. Voting for this package is voting to give the Republican minority a veto they did not earn at the ballot box.

This is another one of Harry’s wimpy hand shakes. Mitch McConnell has once again won against the odds. Thanks, Harry, for nothing, again.

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