Some Senate Democrats are looking to modify the rules of the Senate specifically as they apply towards filibusters. Tired of having the Republicans blocking legislation, some Senate Dems (led by a Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico) are thinking of asking for a change to the rules at the beginning of the new Congress. The rule change can be approved with a simple 51 vote majority.
Udall is considering four proposals as part of the changes he will offer. One would prevent filibusters to taking up a bill or on a nomination, although it will still allow filibusters to end debate on a bill. A second would eliminate so-called “secret holds” in which a senator can anonymously stall legislation or a nomination from coming to the floor. A third would require senators to stay on the floor and not leave for any reason during the filibuster. The fourth proposal from Udall is aimed at diminishing GOP concerns about being locked out of the process as it would require a allow for a certain number of amendments from the minority party for any bill being debated.
Ellis has a nice write up in today’s Argus with regards to statements made by both Thune and Johnson on the subject. Of course Johnson is for the rule changes as then his party could enjoy more power, where as Thune takes the level headed approach of noting that without any protection at all, there it no reason for the party in power to ever compromise or discuss legislation with the other side. Johnson must believe his party will always be in control of the Senate otherwise I am not sure how he can think this is a good idea.
For the past few years we have watched as the Democrats have rammed legislation through the Senate. The Republicans were constantly shut out of any discussions on legislation, while Reid cut off the chance for debate and bypassed the committee process so that legislation could be drafted behind close doors.
I know someone is going to say something like “the republicans did the same thing back when blah blah blah…”.
That is the point. Do we really want the party in power (regardless of party) to remove or change what may be the one and only protection left for the other side? Personally, I don’t like the filibuster being used on a more regular basis. However, when we see the shenanigans that the Reid has pulled for the past couple of years I am pretty sure we are not looking at fixing the right problem.