Oderint dum Metuant!
Talking About the Outlook

On the Filibuster

Ben Armbruster writes:

Think Progress: Sen. Tom Udall Calls Reid’s Promise To ‘Take A Look At The Filibuster’ A ‘Warning Shot’ To Republicans: Motivated by unprecedented GOP obstruction this year in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) recently announced a proposal to revamp the Senate’s filibuster rules at the start of the next Congress. Citing Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, Udall would like to revamp the 60-vote requirement for cloture and other procedural issues, where the Senate could “legally draft new rules for action,” which could then “only be overturned by a simple majority vote, rather than the 67-vote threshold that accompanies rule change proposals during an ongoing congressional session.” Yesterday, Udall spoke at the Center for American Progress in a discussion on “Deliberation, Obstruction or Dysfunction? Evaluating the Modern U.S. Senate and its Contribution to American Governance.” Afterward, he spoke to ThinkProgress and described what he thinks drives the GOP to obstruct the majority’s agenda:

UDALL: It would appear to me that this is an attempt to deny the President and the party that has the majority any accomplishments. … It looks to me like a strategy to just say, “if they don’t accomplish anything” meaning the majority don’t accomplish anything “then they can’t go to the next election talking about specific things that they’ve done.”

“If they insist to utilize the rules to block all progress,” Udall said, “then at the beginning of the year, we’re going to have to deal with that and try and make the rules a little more compatible with the majority being able to rule.” When ThinkProgress asked if he currently has the 51 votes needed to change the Senate rules, Udall said, “I have no idea.” But Udall did say that he was pleased with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) recent comment that he will move in the next Congress “to take a look at the filibuster” because it has been “abused.” The New Mexico senator called Reid’s comments a “warning shot” to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

UDALL: Harry Reid came out and said — in just the last couple of days, and I think fired a warning shot over the head of Sen. McConnell — that we may need filibuster reform at the beginning of the next Congress. If you have one of the leaders supporting reform, that’s a significant step forward. … But I was very heartened by his comment that we may very well have to change the filibuster at the beginning of the next Congress. That to me is a very significant thing for him to say.

Note to all: the filibuster as we currently know it is going to fall--it almost fell under Cheney, and only the fact that a few Democratic senators decided that it was worth "preserving" and so knuckled under to Republican policy priorities with which they did not substantively agree has kept it in being.

The Democratic Party has a choice: it can either break the filibuster when it has the majority, or it can let Republicans stall and then let them break the filibuster when they have the majority.