What should be at the top of Reid's mind as he develops this package is the last few days of fiscal
cliff curb fiasco, when his relationship with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell soured further, and the upcoming fight that really threatens the nation's economy: the debt ceiling. McConnell has made no bones about his intent to take the debt ceiling hostage at every opportunity. The fact that he's facing reelection in 2014 only adds to his motivation to do so.
The Levin-McCain plan would do very little to prevent that kind of hostage taking, as Sen. Merkley explains in an interview with Greg Sargent. What's more, it actually rewards the hostage-takers.
He argues that unless Senators are forced to fully carry out the filibuster in the eye of the public and media, there will be no political price or disincentive for obstructionism.There's nothing like rewarding Republicans for their past obstruction with new, guaranteed opportunities to gum up the works. The Levin-McCain plan wouldn't just do little to fix the problem; it could make it worse, all in the name of protecting the minority.
“Currently, the powerful tool the minority holds is the secret silent filibuster, which can secretly kill bills,” Merkley says. “This does nothing to solve the heart of the problem.”
Merkley adds that under the current proposal the minority will have two additional amendments on every bill—a response to the demands of Republicans who are angry of being deprived of the right to offer them. The amendments, Merkley worries, will give the minority an easy way to insert poison pills into legislation, an added tool of obstructionism. “This gives even more power to the minority,” Merkley says.
Real filibuster reform will require, at the least, forcing a genuine talking filibuster. That's creating real transparency and making the minority actually work for their obstruction. It also requires limiting the opportunities for the obstructionists to block legislation. The minority could still filibuster a final bill under the Merkley proposal, just not at every step of the way up to final passage.
Tell Sen. Reid that real filibuster reform has to happen. Call him at 202-224-3542.