Merkley: Delay could be good for filibuster reform
A quick filibuster reform update.
With the internal debates among Senate Dems over filibuster reform moving very quickly on the Hill right now, some people seem worried about the fact that Harry Reid is reportedly seeking a delay on introducing reform, in order to negotiate with Mitch McConnell in pursuit of some kind of deal. This has folks nervous that Dem leaders will cave on real reform in the quest for compromise with the GOP.
But a key Dem Senator pushing reform tells me that this may be the wrong conclusion to draw. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, one of a number of leading young reformers, argues that this could actually be a positive -- it could lead to a drawn out public debate that could increase organizing time and increase pressure for real action.
Right now, the leading Dem Senators pushing reform -- Merkley, Tom Harkin, Tom Udall, and Amy Klobuchar -- are in private discussions over precisely how to proceed tomorrow. They have vowed to introduce a package of reforms tomorrow, but it isn't clear yet precisely what will be in that package.
Complicating matters, Republicans are now hitting back hard at Dems, characterizing filibuster reform as some kind of "power grab" that would destroy relations between the parties. And Reid -- perhaps in reaction to the GOP attacks -- seems to be seeking some kind of delay that will put off action on whatever package the reformers do want. The question is whether this means Dem leaders are "flinching" in the face of the GOP onslaught, as CBS News puts it.
But Merkley insists in an interview that the reformers are pressing forward. They are undaunted by Reid's delaying of the process, and are hoping to turn it into an opportunity to force an extended public debate over the need to fix the filibuster and address Senate dysfunction once and for all.
"Let's use this time to turn this into a national debate," Merkley argues. "We're advocating and we're pressing. Let's seize this opportunity to build momentum."
The Senate being the opaque place that it is, no one can quite figure out what Reid is doing right now. The questions that need to be answered are: Is Reid working with the reformers to craft a package that is acceptable both to them and to Republicans? Or is he pursuing negotiations with McConnell separate from what the reformers want? Is Reid prepared to support a "compromise" reform package that McConnell likes but the reformers reject?
To hear Merkley tell it, reformers remain optimistic that Reid's intentions are good. I'm told a meeting is ongoing right now among top Senate staffers to hash out these and other questions. More when I learn it.
| January 4, 2011; 1:55 PM ET
Categories: Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, filibuster
Save & Share: Previous: Rubin still flat wrong about Black Panther nonsense
Next: GOP unlikely to allow Dem amendments to repeal bill
Posted by: boloboffin1 | January 4, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: wbgonne | January 4, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: djwaldman1 | January 4, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sbj3 | January 4, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: djwaldman1 | January 4, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rpixley220 | January 4, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 4, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 4, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: flounder2 | January 4, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Alex3 | January 4, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: djwaldman1 | January 4, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sbj3 | January 4, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jnc4p | January 4, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse