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Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be Defense Secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 31, 2013. Hagel, 66, is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a former two-te
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began Thursday's Senate session by slamming Senate Republicans for filibustering former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination to be secretary of defense.
"It is tragic that they have decided to filibuster this qualified nominee. It is really unfortunate," said Reid. [...] "In less than two hours, our country will be without a secretary of defense."
Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed to a vote on Hagel's nomination. Although confirmation requires a simple majority, it will take 60 votes to end the filibuster and proceed to a vote on confirmation. As of late Thursday morning, Reid aides said there were not 60 votes to move forward. All 55 Democrats and three Republicans have said they will vote to proceed with Hagel's nomination, leaving him two short of the 60-vote threshold required to end the Republican filibuster.

Last month, Senate Democrats abandoned a popular plan to reform the filibuster by forcing senators who wish to filibuster to speak on the Senate floor. All but a handful of Senate Democrats supported the reform plan, but the opposition of those senators killed the effort. In the end, Reid agreed to a what amounted to a handshake agreement with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to curb GOP abuse of the filibuster.

With McConnell apparently stabbing Reid in the back, Reid acknowledged that he is now facing criticism from progressives for having accepted the deal with McConnell. "A number of shows attacked me last night," he said. "[They said] we shouldn't have agreed to the rules changes because this is what we have going on." Reid said he was ignoring the criticism, but bringing it up demonstrated that he is actually well aware of it.

Now, as the Republicans move toward a historic abuse of the filibuster—no defense secretary nominee has ever been filibustered—the question is whether Reid's filibuster-supporting Democratic colleagues are aware of the criticism as well. It's clear that they made a mistake, but the good news is that they can fix their mistake—but only if they recognize the problem.

Sign the petition to tell Harry Reid: Re-open filibuster reform in light of continued Republican obstructionism

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