Nov 7, 2012 Comments Off Infidel
Excepted from WASHINGTON TIMES: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that he will try to push through a change to Senate rules that would limit the GOP’s ability to filibuster bills.
Speaking in the wake of Tuesday’s election, which boosted Senate Democrats’ numbers slightly, Mr. Reid said he won’t end filibusters altogether but that the rules need to change so that the minority party cannot use the legislative blocking tool as often.
“I think that the rules have been abused and that we’re going to work to change them,” he told reporters. “Were not going to do away with the filibuster but we’re going to make the Senate a more meaningful place.”
Republicans, who have 47 of the chamber’s 100 seats in this current Congress, have repeatedly used that strong minority to block parts of President Obama’s agenda on everything from added stimulus spending to his judicial picks.
A filibuster takes 60 senators to overcome it.
Leaders of both parties have been reluctant to change the rules because they value it as a tool when they are in the minority.
But Mr. Reid said things changed over the last few years when he repeatedly faced off against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who had said his chief political goal was defeating Mr. Obama. Mr. Reid said that led the GOP to abuse the filibuster.
He did not say what changes he would support, though colleagues of his have proposed several potential changes.
One leading option would eliminate the chance to filibuster bringing a bill to the floor, though it would still let a minority filibuster actual passage. That proposal would also limit the number of amendments allowed by each side.
Senate Republicans say that would only compound the real problem, which is Mr. Reid’s efforts to limit the number of amendments that can be offered on legislation. They said that when they are shut out of the amendment process, they have little leverage other than to block the entire bill.
Still, there’s likely to be pressure for some changes, particularly from newly-elected members of the chamber.
Sen.-elect Angus King, an independent who won Maine’s open Senate seat, also took aim at filibusters during his campaign, saying the 60-vote threshold for legislation to see Senate action is not part of the Constitution.
Indeed, the founding document does not establish a supermajority for most legislation, but it does give each chamber the power to write its own rules, and the Senate has adopted the 60-vote threshold as a debating technique, not a threshold for passage — though that’s often what it becomes.