Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Filibuster Reform?

As the Senate convenes today, and just a week after Judge Sullivan dismissed a legal challenge to the filibuster--there's talk once again of filibuster reform.  We posted on similar talk two years ago, at the start of the 112th Congress, with links to other resources.

The Hill reports that Majority Leader Reid will recess the Senate at the end of today's session, extending the first day of the session until later this month, when the body reconvenes.  This will keep the "constitutional option" on the table and allow the Senate to pass filibuster reform with a bare majority.  (Filibuster reform is made more difficult, because a Senator could filibuster a bill to change the filibuster rule itself--requiring a super-majority to change the filibuster.  But the Senate can dodge the super-majority requirement by enacting filibuster reform on the first day of the legislative session--the day on which the body re-adopts its own rules, using default parliamentary majority rule.)  The threat of the option could inspire compromise.

According to the report, the Levin-McCain plan will be the starting point for negotiations on reform.  But there are still strong advocates in the Senate for the talking filibuster.


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