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The Hill reports:

Democrats don’t have the 51 votes they need in the Senate to change filibuster rules that could make it harder for the GOP minority to wield power in the upper chamber.

Lawmakers leading the charge acknowledge they remain short, but express optimism they’ll hit their goal.

“I haven’t counted 51 just yet, but we’re working,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a leading proponent of the so-called constitutional or “nuclear” option, in which Senate rules could be changed by a majority vote.

Even with a Republican-led House, we need the Senate to be able to hold up-and-down votes, without obstruction, on presidential appointments to cabinet posts (e.g., Susan Rice) and judicial nominations. We need to find out who to target, and then write our letters and make our calls. We can't afford to let this get away from us again.

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Comment Preferences

  •  God...What are they waiting for? (4+ / 0-)

    You would honestly think there would be a few Republicans jumping on board.  

  •  what about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    New senators liz warren?

    •  It looks like all the new Democratic senators (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim, jabney

      support reforming the filibuster.  I'd like to see something that retains protections for the minority to some extent - it hasn't been that long since the Dems were in the minority, and they most likely will be in the minority again.  However, I don't think for a second that the Republicans would hesitate to use the nuclear option when they regain the Senate at some point in the future.  I think it's important to carefully craft an option that stops the blatant obstructionism without giving up all the minority protections.

      I think the first thing they should do is require a filibuster to be an actual filibuster - senators who choose to filibuster should be out there on the floor speaking.  Have the cots at the ready for the all-night sessions.  That alone would cut down on many of the filibusters.

  •  Manchin, Landrieu, Pryor, Warner (12+ / 0-)

    Almost surely against it from Dem Caucus, probably a few others as well who like the idea that GOP obstruction gives them cover.  Senate Conservadems hated having 60 seats because it made them the "bad guys" bringing the legislation to the center.  As long as they can hide behind GOP obstruction it makes their lives so much easier.  

    They have the billionaires, We have the Big Dog!

    by Jacoby Jonze on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 07:42:26 AM PST

  •  There are many other ways to stall in the Senate (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deep, phonegery, Mindful Nature, condorcet

    besides the filibuster.

    While talking out a measure is the most common form of filibuster in the Senate, other means of delaying and killing legislation are available. Because the Senate routinely conducts business by unanimous consent, one member can create at least some delay by objecting to the request. In some cases, such as considering a bill or resolution on the day it is introduced or brought from the House, the delay could be as long as a day. However, because the delay is a legislative day, not a calendar day, the majority can mitigate it by briefly adjourning.

    In many cases, the result of an objection to a unanimous request will be the necessity of a vote. Forcing votes may not seem an effective delaying tool, but the cumulative effect of several votes, which are at least 15 minutes, can be substantial. In addition to objecting to routine requests, votes can be forced through dilatory motions to adjourn and through quorum calls. The intended purpose of a quorum call is to establish the presence of a constitutional quorum, but senators routinely use them to waste time while waiting for the next speaker to come to the floor or for leaders to negotiate off the floor. In those cases, a senator asks unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. If a member objects, the clerk must continue to call the roll of senators just as is done with a vote. When a call shows no quorum, the minority can force another vote by moving to request or compel the attendance of absent senators. Finally, senators can force votes by moving to adjourn or raising specious points of order and appealing the ruling of the chair.

    The most effective methods of delay are those that force the majority to invoke cloture multiple times on the same measure. The most common example of this is to filibuster the motion to proceed to a bill, then filibuster the bill itself. The result is to force the majority to go through the entire cloture process twice in a row. Where, as is common, the majority seeks to pass a substitute amendment to the bill, a further cloture procedure is needed for the amendment.

    The Senate is particularly vulnerable to serial cloture votes when it and the House have passed different versions of the same bill and want to go to conference (i.e., appoint a special committee of both houses to merge the bills). Normally, the majority asks unanimous consent to

        Insist on its amendment or amendments (or disagree to the House's amendments);
        Request (or agree to) a conference; and
        Authorize the presiding officer to appoint conferees (members of the special committee).

    However, if the minority objects, each of those motions is debatable, and therefore subject to a filibuster, and are divisible, meaning the minority can force them to be debated (and filibustered) separately. What's more, after the first two motions pass, but before the third does, senators can offer an unlimited number of motions to give the conferees non-binding instructions, which are debatable, amendable, and divisible. As a result, a determined minority could cause a great deal of delay before a conference.

    The Senate is a horror show for anyone who hates to waste time.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 07:47:43 AM PST

    •  Harry Reed seems to want one big change (4+ / 0-)

      Limit the filibuster to only once per bill, at the end of the process.

      He seems really offended by the multiple filibusters during the lifecycle.   Secret hold and similar crap are along the same lines.

      This would preserve the filibuster as a last ditch defense of the minority without it just screwing with the calendar.  Republicans have been filibustering stuff that passed cloture with over 80 votes, just to waste 3 days of the calendar.

  •  actually, this could be "good" in the short run (0+ / 0-)

    If the prez pursues a safety net damaging "grand bargain" like the one he made in 2011, and the Repubs actually agree to it this time, then the only thing that can stop it (or more likely reduce the harm) may be a filibuster in the Senate using current rules.

    I wonder if this hasn't crossed Reid's mind...

    "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

    by quill on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 08:14:09 AM PST

    •  Only a problem if dems defect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When you have an actual majority, the filibuster isn't as useful.

      Also Reed has a lot of power to just not bring legislation up to vote if he doesn't like it.  Which means a filibuster on the Dem side is only likely to happen if

      1.  some dems defect
      2.  Reed is among those Dems, or alternately he sees a tactical reason for the Dems to filibuster in public rather than letting the bill die quietly of neglect.

      •  perverse coalition (0+ / 0-)

        Just speculating here, but in the event of a truly stinky grand bargain I could see RW Repubs and Dems forming a coalition to block it.

        But you're right: more likely Reid will use his Senatorial superpowers to leverage a better deal.

        "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

        by quill on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:11:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Reid, Udall, and others are not seeking... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill, Woody, ColoTim

      to end the filibuster. Just reform it. In the scenario that you described, an old-fashioned hold-the-floor type filibuster would still be available, and taking advantage of it to prevent a Grand Bargain that cuts entitlement benefits might be a good thing.

  •  If rules like those were applied to counting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the votes  in an election, we might never have another president elected.  The politicians have figured out how to minority rule to keep their power.

    Time is a long river.

    by phonegery on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 08:20:09 AM PST

  •  Of course the conservative leaning "The Hill" (0+ / 0-)

    is going to use inflammatory language to describe filibuster reform such as calling it the "nuclear option". As best as I can tell, that term was only used back in the day to describe the efforts to eliminate the filibuster entirely for judicial nominations. I guess, when in doubt, scare the crap out of people by calling any sort of reform of Senate rules to be the nuclear option.

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