Reid: Democrats prepared to go it alone on filibuster reform
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."
| January 6, 2011; 4:38 PM ET
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