Political Animal


January 02, 2013 4:31 PM Longest Day For Filibuster Reform

By Ed Kilgore

In case you’ve been wondering, as I have, why there wasn’t more talk about Harry Reid imposing filibuster reform via a first-day-of-the-session change in the Senate rules (particularly in wake of the unsatisfying legislative alternatives, which either exaggerate or ignore the significance of “talking filibusters”), here’s an answer from WaPo’s Greg Sargent:

Democrats familiar with the situation say they expect Harry Reid to privately negotiate a final package of reforms with Mitch McConnell, with an eye towards bringing it to the floor as soon as tomorrow. An alternate scenario, I’m told, is that Dems recess tomorrow, which would extend the current legislative day (the first of the new Congress), allowing reforms to be introduced when the Senate returns from recess in several weeks.

I’d prefer that Reid “ram through” new rules without a deal with McConnell—i.e., deploy the “nuclear option,” since anything McConnell will agree to is unlikely to do much good. But perhaps the “extend the day” gimmick will at least allow genuine supporters of filibuster reform the time to get their act together and agree on the strongest possible set of proposals.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on January 02, 2013 4:54 PM:

    I guess this is just the way it's going to be. Dems just HAVE to negotiate...just have to seek "common ground". It's just never going to be a "eat this" kind of thing, like the GOP is programmed to instinctively do. I have zero confidence that at the end of the day, Dems will "get their act together and agree on the strongest possible set of proposals."

  • memekiller on January 02, 2013 5:05 PM:

    Democrats have a way they can end the abuse of the filibuster and the GOP can't do anything about it. The only reason not to is they're pussies. Any Democrat who does not vote for real reform is voting for the gridlock. As far as I'm concerned the moment filibuster reform dies, gridlock is bipartisan. They own it.

  • jjm on January 02, 2013 5:18 PM:

    Didn't McConnell literally go back on his word the last time possible filibuster reform came up, and despite promising not to do so on virtually every piece of legislation, he nevertheless did so or let his GOP do so?

    What I so despise about the GOP today is that they are all posturing as Johnny Rebs, questioning even the most taken-for-granted functions of government and criticizing them, ridiculing them, and demanding that they be stopped -- you know, things like collecting taxes, making treaties, regulating those 'well regulated militias' and of course disaster relief. (Of course it's all for show; they never really do what they claim they will, but they get all the publicity for standing up to the damnyankees.)

    All the while they have their hands in the government till and much happily high off the hog while posturing that they are agin' each and every dadblasted thing those Yankees try to pull ...

  • Peter C on January 02, 2013 5:30 PM:

    I wish we rank-and-file Democrats had more say about who serves as our Congressional leaders. I wish we had an effective way to make our opinions even heard. I'd have canned Reid long ago, alas. He's often cited as a 'boxer', but I swear he shows up at gun-fights without a gun, without a knife, and wearing his boxing gloves so he doesn't hurt anyone.

  • Malatesta on January 02, 2013 5:38 PM:

  • Doug on January 02, 2013 5:40 PM:

    So, according to Greg Sargent, we have two possibilities: a privately negotiated "agreement" with a Senator whose word isn't worth sh*t or the Democrats will recess, thus extending the "first" parliamentary day and do filibuster reform when the recess ends in a week or so.
    As Majority Leader Reid knows just how much trust to put in McConnell's "word", I'm lead to believe that the second option is what will actually happen and the first possibility is being pushed because the bipartisanistas must be getting really worried.

  • sjw on January 02, 2013 6:07 PM:

    And where is Obama in all of this? If there is a private deal that does not employ the nuclear option, the one can assume Obama is ok with it. Not that I am.

  • square1 on January 02, 2013 8:56 PM:

    Um, it isn't "the nuclear option" at the beginning of the Senate. Its called "making the rules" and it is done by majority rule. Democrats don't need Republican permission. If Reid wants to cut a deal with McConnell, it is because Reid is a worthless, unprincipled, establishment politician. Likewise for Obama, who is AWOL on the filibuster issue.

    The dirty secret of D.C. is that members of both parties love the filibuster because it allows policies that are popular with the majority of Americans -- but unpopular with powerful, largely-corporate lobbyists -- to be shot down without any accountability. The minority party gets credit from their base for opposing the majority without the burden of proposing a viable alternative. While the majority of the majority gets to feign support for policies that they are complicit in killing.

  • jhm on January 03, 2013 8:15 AM:

    A big help to those seeking deeper reform (such as yours truly) would be some base plan which could be referred to in correspondence, such as "I urge you support reforms close to the X plan, or Sen. X's plan."