Thursday, January 24, 2013
Senate leaders today reached an agreement on modest filibuster reforms, according to WaPo, NYT, and others, retaining the 60-vote requirement to end a filibuster and rejecting the talking filibuster option. We last posted on this here. There appear to be two principal changes:
- The new rules will short-circuit a filibuster vote on a "motion to proceed," when the Senate takes up legislation. Opponents of measures have used this filibuster at the beginning of debate to slow up or even block legislation. The change will remove a significant procedural hurdle and pave a clearer path to passage, although opponents could still filibuster later. In exchange, opponents of legislation will be able to offer at least two amendments.
- The new rules limit debate on lower-court nominees and lower-level executive nominees to a few hours. Supreme Court nominees, circuit court nominees, and cabinet-level spots are not part of this agreement.
The talking filibuster is not part of the agreement; neither is a proposal to require opponents to muster 41 votes (instead of requiring proponents to muster 60). The 60-vote requirement to end a filibuster and advance a bill stays in place.
The Senate voted by large majorities for the measures, and Senator Reid therefore did not need to use the constitutional option.