Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Today was supposed to be D-Day for filibuster reform in the U.S. Senate. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has opted for "the longest day" with a "recess," while he negotiates away any meaningful reforms of the filibuster rule with the Septegenarian Ninja Turtle, Mitch McConnell. Reid: Senate Will Reform Filibuster After Finishing Sandy Aid:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) signaled Tuesday that the Senate will move on to filibuster reform once it finalizes the relief package for victims of superstorm Sandy.
He said on the Senate floor:
Once we complete that vital legislation, the Senate will take action to make this institution that we all love work more effectively. We will consider changes to the United States Senate rules.
Because this matter warrants additional debate, today we will follow the precedents set in 2005 and again in 2011. We will reserve the right of all Senators to propose changes to the Senate rules. And we will explicitly not acquiesce in the carrying over of all the rules from the last Congress. It is my intention that the Senate will recess today, rather than adjourn, to continue the same legislative day, and allow this important rules discussion to continue. I am hopeful the Republican leader and I will reach an agreement that allows the Senate to operate more effectively.
By opting to "recess" rather than "adjourn," Reid would continue the first legislative day of the new session and therefore leave room to reform the filibuster with 51 votes.
Steve Benen reports, A delay in filibuster reform:
The Senate can change its procedural rules on the first legislative day of the session, but the first day can actually last for weeks. Indeed, it's Jan. 22 and the chamber is still technically on Day 1, because it's been in recess. Reid wants that to continue.
Why? Because talks over possible reforms are still ongoing and Reid isn't quite ready to finalize plans. The goal, apparently, is to strike a bipartisan agreement, because the Majority Leader is reluctant to pursue the "constitutional option" (or "nuclear option," depending who you're talking to and when) that would change the rules with a simple 51-vote majority.
To that end, Reid met with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this morning, with the hopes of finishing a modest reforms package, which they could then bring to their respective caucuses later today.
If they don't reach an agreement, the "constitutional option" is still on the table. If they do strike a deal but their caucuses balk, we may yet see a more aggressive effort from reform-minded Democrats.
But if Reid and McConnell reach some kind of resolution, it's likely to be underwhelming and narrow, bearing little resemblance to some of the ambitious plans pushed by several Democrats. Indeed, if Reid were serious about bold changes, he wouldn't be negotiating with McConnell at all -- he'd be rounding up 51 votes from his own caucus.
Harry Reid never fails to disappoint me.