Thursday, January 24, 2013


The effort to change the Senate rules to reduce the use of filibusters has ended with bipartisan agreement on a very limited set of changes, far short of what I had hoped for. The motion to proceed to new business is still debatable for 4 hours, which in Senate practice is most of a day. In return, the minority party is granted the right to offer an amendment, which likely could be the kind of poison pill that embarrasses the majority or guts the basic legislation. Nominees can still be filibustered, but "only" for eight hours of debate after 60 votes have been cast to end the filibuster.

There's nothing to put the real burden of opposition on opponents by requiring a "talking filibuster." I had thought and hoped that the threat to change the rules by majority vote would lead to more significant changes, but apparently the old bulls didn't want to use that tactic -- and one of the reform advocates, Sen. Merkley [D-OR] angered his colleagues by trying to get outside pressure on them. Not good.

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