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Posted at 4:38 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

Reid: Democrats prepared to go it alone on filibuster reform

By Felicia Sonmez

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said that Democrats will push ahead with a plan to reform the Senate rules, with or without Republican support.

Addressing reporters after Senate Democrats' weekly caucus luncheon, Reid said that he hopes bipartisan agreement on filibuster reform is possible but if not, Democrats are prepared to enact a plan on their own.

"It's very clear that Democrats want to change the rules," Reid said. "They believe, as I believe, the rules have been abused, as I said in my opening statement yesterday. And we're going to work toward that. We hope that the Republicans see the light of day and are willing to work with us. If not, we'll have to do something on our own."

Reid demurred when asked whether Democrats would consider using the so-called "constitutional option," a controversial procedure which some Democrats contend would require only a simple majority in order for the rules to be reformed.

On Wednesday, Democratic Sens. Tom Udall (N.M.), Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) introduced a plan that would enact a number of changes to the rules governing the filibuster. Among the proposed changes in the new package are a rule that would require senators to talk continuously when delivering a filibuster and one that would do away with the practice of secret holds. A number of Democrats have expressed skepticism about the package or have said they're undecided.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking to reporters at the Capitol Thursday afternoon after Senate Republicans' annual retreat, accused Democrats of attempting to invalidate Republicans' midterm gains through the filibuster reform effort.

"We don't think the Senate rules are broken," McConnell said. "And what we think is going on here is an opportunity - an effort to, in effect, try to nullify the results of the election. We saw the lengths they went to last year to jam through a partisan agenda, with no votes to spare. Now, their reaction to having had a bad election is to change the rules. They went from 60 down to 53, and now they want to change the rules."

McConnell added that Republicans are willing to discuss filibuster reform, noting that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is in discussions with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). But McConnell added that "anything that begins to move the Senate in the direction of becoming the House of Representatives would be inappropriate, and we would fight that."

By Felicia Sonmez  | January 6, 2011; 4:38 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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We are a country of many voices in this country and butthurt Reid only wants his side to be heard. Every voice in the Senate should be heard. We have the filibuster to allow the minority to have a voice and for checks and balances. Obama, Reid and their cronies are wannabe dictators.

Posted by: bjoh249


Did you know that the proposed changes will give MORE power to the minority, because it will allow the minority to add amendments to bills?

Did you know that the proposed changes will allow for MORE debate and discussion, because filibustering senators will have to stand in front of the senate and discuss their opinions?

People that get mad about something because they are too lazy to read about it first PISS me off.

Posted by: Independent4tw | January 12, 2011 8:41 AM | Report abuse

We are a country of many voices in this country and butthurt Reid only wants his side to be heard. Every voice in the Senate should be heard. We have the filibuster to allow the minority to have a voice and for checks and balances. Obama, Reid and their cronies are wannabe dictators.

Posted by: bjoh249 | January 8, 2011 8:39 PM | Report abuse

McConnell is a disgrace to us and especially having a leader role. McConnell only cares about stopping president Obama and his filibuster buddies were able to stop so many important legislations that would continue to move us forward. McConnell is loosing the little mind of his that is left if he thinks people do NOT see him for the 2 faced hypocrit he is. People you need to call and send this phony emails saying that the party of NO in the Senate will NOT continue to work. The party of NO must realize they were sent to serve the people not to stop progress because we have been blessed with president Obama. We have added more jobs in 2 years that McConnell and the other phony hypocrit Republicans did in over 8 years. So no, McConell is useless and hopefully at the next election they will send him out of our Senate.

Posted by: netstoy | January 7, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The rules should be changed and it will benefit both parties in the long run. A vote of 59-41 seems like a substantial margin but under the current Senate rules, that vote does not go through because 60 votes are required. Where does common sense fit in????

Posted by: pgmichigan | January 7, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Of course McConnell doesn't think the filibuster is broken. He's used it twice as much in the past two years as anyone before in the past 200 years. He knows that it works for him and his goal of destroying Obama and government in general.But it doesn't work for the American people who would like government to actualy get things done and for representatives of both parties to work together to create solutions. The filibuster and secret hold work great for gridlock and partisan game-playing and that's why McConnell likes them. No work and nothing to do but say, "No!" Government is see as ineffectual, social programs get cut, and everything else is "privatized" to benefit corporate friends. The filibuster is a win-win for McConnell and a lose-lose for the average citizen.

Posted by: wd1214 | January 7, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Poor old Harry. He will never learn and is not smart enought to realize the people spoke in November. They almost spoke him out of office and by a candidate who had no support from the national organization. Any other candidate would have him sitting at home twiddling his thumbs. Remember when the Republicans take over the senate, they can use the same tactics as you to re-instate the rules. They can also by-pass the Constitutional option stating that it would take 60 votes to change the rules. Better let well enough alone. It's like the kid playing ball and if things do not go his way he will "take his ball and go home." Poor Harry. All this division in Congress was initiated by the Democrats when they began to filibuster the nomination of Mr. Bork for the Supreme Court. There has been great division ever since. The Constitution does not say for them to "advise and not consent." It says to advise and consent. That means Congress should give the President advice on the nominee, but when he selects the nominee according to the Constitution they "must consent." No the Democrats always want to change the rules when they are going to be the minority. There is one thing they can't change and that is the purse strings which are controlled by the House of Representatives. And I hope they will cut those strings when considering funding all lthose liberal programs the people didn't want and voted against those things in November. People, REMEMBER those Senators who have to run for office in 2012, especially those Dems who went Red this last election.

Posted by: jjeleven | January 7, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Harry is a shortsighted twit.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | January 7, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Senator Reid: just do it already, stop talking about doing it. Your Democrats created the abuse of the filibuster process, now you can take responsibility and fix it... remembering, of course, that your party will be in the minority in two years. But don't worry about that... your party will be treated similarly to the way you treat the Republicans while you're in the majority.

Posted by: JBaustian | January 7, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I hate to be so pessimistic but as for meaningful filibuster reform I'll believe it when I see it. A rule change can be done at any time and only requires a simple majority vote. But the Democrats, which have held a clear majority this past two years, have been willing to do nothing about it except complain about the Republicans' obstructionist tactics.

Could it be because of the Senate's "dirty little secret" that Senator Harkin refers to and which enables individual Senators to wield immense filibuster power (by being able to block legislation and the confirmation of nominees) that most Senators are so loathe to give up?

Posted by: billeisen1 | January 7, 2011 5:23 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: itkonlyyou440 | January 6, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

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