Monday, January 03, 2011

Reid to Change Senate Rule on Filibusters

As the politicians head back to Washington for the opening of the new Congress, one top priority on the agenda of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is to change the rule in the Senate as it pertains to filibusters.

Currently, under Senate Rule 22 it takes a three-fifths vote, or 60 senators, for cloture to shut off the potentially endless debate known as a filibuster. But it takes a two-thirds vote, or 67 Senators, to change a Senate rule.

Now that the Democratic majority has dramatically shrunk in the Senate, Reid wants to change the rules. He was against it before he was for it, this rule change.

When Harry Reid was hawking his book "The Good Fight" on C-Span's "Book Notes" in 2008, he described how he had vehemently opposed GOP plans for the "nuclear option," changing the rules to break a Democratic filibuster on President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.

See, it is a "good fight" if it is Democrats fighting a Republican agenda. Not so much if it is Republicans fighting a Democratic agenda. Back in the days of the Bush administration, the party of no was the Democrats. From the time the Democrats won the majority in the House and Senate in 2007 until President Bush left office, the Democrats were the masters of blocking nominations and legislation. When it was apparent a crucial number of federal judicial openings would not be filled, a group of fourteen senators met to try and work a compromise. This group was equally divided between Democrats and Republicans and led by Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham and referred to as the Gang of Fourteen.

Ideologically blinded members of both parties cried foul. No compromises, ever. Sounds good but in the real world it is a losing policy. Had the Republican majority succumbed and changed the rules, that short sighted victory would have allowed the now majority Democratic party the same leeway. Graham, at the time branded with the usual RINO label, wisely counseled fellow Republicans to avoid the easy way out. He understood that majority control ebbs and flows.

Reid, at the time, was quite vocal at the perceived power grab by the Republican majority. Now, however, the shoe is on the other foot. Now he has a plan to go ahead and change the number of votes required to break a filibuster. He is using a freshman as his willing rube,Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico.

The National Journal reports that all Democratic senators returning next year have signed a letter to Reid that a simple majority of the Senate can change the rule governing filibusters that has been in existence since 1975.

They are pushing the idea that like the House, the Senate is not a "continuing body" and is therefore free to adopt new rules each time it meets.

Emily Miller, writing in Human Events, reports that Reid held a closed-door meeting last week in which he said he may by a simple majority change the rules, including Rule 22, on the first day of the 112th Congress.

Got that? All of the Democrats in the Senate signed on to Reid's plan behind closed doors. Another failure towards the pledge of the strongest measure of transparency from the Democrats. Reid wants to turn the Senate into the House. He intends to use that logic to make it up as he goes, using whatever rules benefit him.

1 comment:

Eric Noren said...

You're right, they're trying to turn the Senate into the House.

-The filibuster used to take 67 votes to overcome (reduced to 60 in 1975).

-Senators used to be elected by state legislatures (changed in 1913).

-Senators are elected every 6 years instead of every 2.

All three examples helped insulate Senators from the populism of the House, allowing them to be the "most deliberative body".

I can't believe how short-sighted they are to even consider a change to the filibuster. Next they'll change elections to every 2 years.