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Posted at 9:50 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Reconsidering filibuster reform

By Jennifer Rubin

I've been admonished by a smart Republican who e-mails me about my opposition to the proposed change in the filibuster rule:

I kind of like what the Democrats want to do. The filibuster is entirely a tool of restraint, it allows you to stop bad legislation. Republicans don't need the filibuster to stop bad legislation in this Congress -- they have the House of Representatives. And in the next Congress (with 23 Democrats up for reelection in 2012) they have a pretty good chance of taking over the Senate. If things go well and we have a Republican president, House and Senate (presumably by pretty slim margins) in 2012, we're going to need a weaker filibuster to repeal the health-care bill. There's nothing sacred about the current rule.

Well, I suspect the Democrats have figured this out. (If not, let's keep it between us.) For that reason, I predict that filibuster reform will wind up in the dust bin of congressional history. But, for the record, since I am a conservative, after all, I don't like fiddling with the rules and the pace of the Senate. As a practical matter, one never knows which way the political winds will blow.The mischief that can be done far exceeds the benefits of a speedier process.

However, the practice of allowing secret holds is a different matter. If there are good and justifiable reasons for the hold, the Senator can make that case. The holds are fine; the secrecy is antithetical to a transparent and democratic system in which elected officials are held accountable for their actions. And perhaps that is where the compromise will wind up: get rid of the secret holds and everyone goes back to squabbling about everything else.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 5, 2011; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Senate Democrats, Senate GOP  
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