Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) threatened changes to the Senate filibuster system, which forces most measures to receive 60 votes in order to receive an actual vote. The filibuster has been a centuries-old constitutional traditional driving compromise rather than one-party rule. Reid now wants to change that – although when Republicans ran the Senate, he was one of the filibuster’s most ardent advocates.
“I and no one on the Democratic side has proposed getting rid of the filibuster,” said Reid. “Just that we do away with the filibuster on the motion to proceed.”
Of course, the goal of Reid’s new policy would be to force Republicans to filibuster legislative votes, rather than merely scheduling. That, in turn, would enable Reid to avoid negotiations before bringing a bill to the floor for a vote, putting pressure on Senate Republicans to cave, and helping Reid avoid having to schedule Republican amendments for votes to take place.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rightly objected: “What these Democrats have in mind is a fundamental change to the way the Senate operates for the purpose of consolidating their own power and further marginalizing the minority voices that the Senate was built to protect.”
In order to change the filibuster rules, it would typically take 67 votes in the Senate – an unreachable barrier. Reid wants to change the rules with a simple majority. Said McConnell: “What this small group of primarily Senate sophomores is now proposing, is that when the Senate gavels in at the beginning of the new Congress a bare majority of senators can disregard the rule that says changes to the Senate rules can only be approved on the same broad bipartisan basis we reserve for approving treaties and overriding presidential vetoes: a supermajority-plus.”
Reid wants one-party rule. It’s that simple. And if the issue is thrown to the courts, look for Obama’s favorite Supreme Court to win him another big victory.