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July 16, 2013 9:43 AM May Cooler Heads Not Prevail

By Ed Kilgore

Well, we may not know until 10:00 EDT what exactly is going to happen with Senate filibuster rules. That’s when Harry Reid has scheduled the first of seven votes on stalled Obama administration appointees, beginning with CFPB director-designate Richard Cordoray. According to Reid’s plans announced yesterday, if Republicans filibuster any of the seven (presumably by objecting to consent agreements allowing for an up-or-down vote) he’ll vote through a rules change by a simple majority vote.

As you may have heard by now, the entire Senate met last night to discuss the situation in the Old Senate Chamber—presumably a venue designed to bring back the spirit of all the famous, albeit on occasion disgraceful, compromises of the distant past. While this meeting led to lots of air-clearing and pious hopes for a deal, none emerged from a subsequent late-night session between Reid and Mitch McConnell.

McConnell reportedly offered to let the seven nominees get through if Reid would back off the rules change. Reid is insisting on a pledge not to filibuster future Obama nominees.

An underlying issue, but one that may not be amenable to some concrete rules change, is the GOP’s unprecedented use of confirmation filibusters to block or force change in the execution of laws the minority doesn’t like (you know, like the National Labor Relations Act of 1935).

Regular readers know I’m a big fan of filibuster reform, and hope Reid sticks to his guns—preferably to make the rules change, but at a minimum to insist that any “deal” last until the day Barack Obama leaves office. This is not time for sticky sentimentality about the Senate’s sacred traditions, which (a) are not at all “sacred” and (b) in the case of the filibuster, have been twisted beyond recognition in the last few years.

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.

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