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It's my understanding that the opportunity for filibuster reform during the current session of Congress has passed.

However, an e-mail from daily kos contained a petition requesting Harry Reid to re-open filibuster reform in light of recent Republican obstructionism of federal judges. Here's a link to the e-mail:

Can Harry Reid and the Democratic majority revisit filibuster reform and change the rules now that the session has already begun? If so, why haven't the Democrats done this in the past when Republicans have tied the Senate up in knots? If the majority can tell Republicans...where they can go...with their blatant misuse of Senate rules...why hasn't it and why doesn't it?

Previously on this site, the question's been asked by me as to whether Harry Reid can revisit filibuster reform this session if Republicans demonstrate (as most of us believed they would) that they plan to continue to misuse Senate filibuster rules by shamelessly obstructing progress, on nominees and the rest of this country's business.

The answer that people keep telling me is that he can't.'s a dailykos e-mail with a petition asking Reid to do just that.

This begs several other questions, as well:

a) If Harry Reid can revisit filibuster reform, where are leading proponents of filibuster reform from before, like Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley? Can he/should he restart his campaign to reform the filibuster rules in the current session?
b) If the majority can revisit filibuster reform any time, why have Democrats not used the threat of that, let alone taken action, when Republicans have blatantly and shamelessly misused their filibuster powers, as they have done so often in the past?
(Or did Harry Reid take specific action this year that he hasn't previously to keep the option open? If so, exactly what was that action?)
c) How is it and why is it that Senate Democrats continue to play themselves for fools with Republicans? Just like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football, they know that Republicans will be pulling the metaphorical football away at the last minute, just like Republicans (and Lucy) have done every time previously. And yet...they continue to go about...doing the exact same thing over and over again...letting Republicans run roughshod over them, the Senate and the American public.

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Comment Preferences

  •  i saw that too and wondered. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, kharma

    would like to mobilize if there is even half a chance...hope to see some answers.

    Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job. -- Adlai E. Stevenson (GOTV)

    by marzook on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 10:26:17 AM PST

  •  That was the Constitutional Option. There is (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo, wdrath, kharma, bear83, buckstop

    a more radical option known as the Nuclear Option.  The nuclear option was threatened by republican Bill Frist during the GWBush administration against the Democrats.  It is basically the same as the Constitutional Option but it is much more uncertain if it is legal.  If the Dems were to use the Nuclear Option, and I think they should, all hell will break loose.  There will be lawsuits and the Supreme Court will be invited to interfere, though that might be illegal interference in the internal operation of the Senate.

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. Harry Truman

    by ratcityreprobate on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 10:28:12 AM PST

    •  I should add that it is called the Nuclear Option (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wdrath, kharma, bear83, FG, buckstop

      because it would be done mid-term rather than at the start of a new session of Congress.

      Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. Harry Truman

      by ratcityreprobate on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 10:29:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This ^^^ seems right. Reid could have ENDED (6+ / 0-)

      ReThug Bullshit Obstruction via new rules for new Senate term early January.  He folded again.  For the 'sake of Senate comity and tradition' for fuck's sake.

      The odds of him now finding the spine to stand up and smack the ReThugs with a legally-iffy filibuster bustup guaranteed to reignite the War of the States are beyond slim.   :o(

      The GOP says you have to have an ID to vote, but $ Millionaire donors should remain anonymous?

      by JVolvo on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 10:34:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Senate sets it's own rules (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wdrath, Wisper, buckstop

      It's in the Constitution. The courts have no jurisdiction to interfere in that.

      There's not a question of the legality of a rules change - it's a matter of whether Democrats have the balls to force the issue.

      It was just the threat by Republicans of using the 'nuclear option' back in 2006 that got Democrats to agree to limit the use of filibusters to 'extraordinary circumstances'.

      Democrats should make the same threat now. What is there to lose?

      Filibuster reform, 2013 - woulda, coulda, shoulda.

      by bear83 on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:23:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bear83, wdrath

        Internal rules have been brought to the US Supreme Court before and with virtually no exception they are ALWAYS ruled to be outside the jurisdiction of the SCOTUS.  

        This results in them being dismissed on standing without ever hearing any details of the case at all.  

        And there is nothing about "inviting" the SCOTUS to review something.  You either bring a legitimate petition to the Court and they agree to hear it and grant you standing or they have nothing to do with it.

        The Supreme Court, from the Jay Doctrine to Madison v. Marbury and everything since, has made it clear that they CAN NOT (not will not) hear a case that does not address a legitimate complaint related to current US law and duly brought by a party with legal standing.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:53:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  FTR, Nuclear Option IS the COnstitutional Option (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      qofdisks, wdrath

      Its called Constitutional because it relies strictly on the text of Article I to infer that the Presiding Officer has the ability to overrule Senate Rules when supported by a majority.  It would leave the rules requiring 60-votes in place and simply use the Presiding Officer's motion, duly passed by majority, to ignore them.  

      Senate Rules are merely self-imposed guidelines to establish order in the chamber.  The only legal authority is the US Constitution and it lays out only a few very specific incidents that require super-majorities, none of them related to cloture or filibustering.

      It is called the Constitutional Option by those that seek to implement it; it is called Nuclear by those that recognize the damage it will do to every facet of how the Senate operates.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:02:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, there is a semantic difference. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, qofdisks, wdrath

        The constitutional option refers to the idea that the body sets its rules and is, on the first day of the new congress, not bound by the requirement that 67 votes are needed to change the rules. Now that the rules for the new congress have been adopted, the 67 vote requirement is one of those rules.

        The "nuclear" option would simply ignore all those rules. Instead, the presiding officer would declare unilaterally the right to bypass the filibuster on a majority vote, or to do whatever it is that they decide they'd like to do that's not consistent with the existing rules.

        The result is the same, of course. But if they couldn't get 51 votes for the former, they surely won't for the latter.

        •  Not how those terms are used. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Crooks and Liars

          ...the Nevada Democrat said that if he does not secure enough Republican votes within the next 36 hours, he will trigger what is known as the "nuclear option" (alternatively, the "constitutional option"), which would override the established precedent of requiring a supermajority of Senators to change the rules of filibuster...
          Here is the official document from the Congressional Reporting Service.  (Warning: PDF FILE)

          It is titled "Changing Senate Rules:  The “Constitutional” or “Nuclear” Option"

          Opening line of wikipedia's entry for Nuclear Option

          In U.S. politics, the nuclear option, also called the constitutional option, is when the presiding officer of the United States Senate disregards a rule or precedent
          Report from The Hill
          Changing rules with a simple majority vote is considered so controversial it is sometimes called the nuclear option. Democrats backing the maneuver have described it as the “Constitutional option.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:28:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  so...basically, this petition (5+ / 0-)

    is requesting milequetoast Harry Reid, who was too timid to actually implement any real filibuster reform when he had the chance by making some very minor rules use the nuclear option? Ok.

    Well...the petition was signed my me, but...lets not hold our breath.

  •  The senior members of the Dem Leadership (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    do not want this.  It wasn't some out-maneuvering tactic that stymied this.  They do not want this passed because they all remember what it was like to be in the minority and without a filibuster option, we would be in a world of hurt right now.

    The example many people like to trot out is that the full repeal of the Estate Tax in 2006 had 59 votes for.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:56:53 AM PST

  •  I'd categorize right along thethe $1T coin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, wdrath

    Yes, I suppose you can make the argument that this is somehow legal and within the boundaries of existing agency procedures and options.

    But this is the WORST way to solve this problem and will cause much more damage then it actually solves.

    When one party has so thoroughly and effectively relegated themselves to be publicly recognized as the party of non-serious clowns that ignore every aspect of how good-government can and should work... why in the world would we want to resort to the kind of Legislative parlor tricks so that we look like we do the same kind of shit on our side?

    GOP wants to change how EVs are portioned in some states.  BOO!!  Ass-hat sore losers that abuse their power as elected officers to rig the system to get what they want!

    Dems want to pass laws in the Senate without the pesky minority stopping them.... ????

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:07:17 PM PST

  •  I would like to see a filibuster watch ticker. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenotron, qofdisks, wdrath

    How many filibusters and holds have there been since the new session?  We need to keep count as a reminder of what could have been.

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