The Senate approved a deal Thursday that will keep the chamber’s long-standing 60-vote threshold for halting a filibuster but streamline some of the chamber’s more cumbersome procedures.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), largely accepting the recommendations from a bipartisan team of senior senators, won broad bipartisan support for a package of reforms that will streamline operations but leave intact rules that give the minority more rights than any other legislative body in the world.
“I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” Reid said in an interview Thursday with The Washington Post’s Wonkblog. “With the history of the Senate, we have to understand the Senate isn’t and shouldn’t be like the House.”
The compromise averted the Democratic majority’s threat to change the Senate’s substantive rules on a party-line vote, an action that would have broken new ground, as the chamber’s long-standing precedents call for a two-thirds majority to change the rules. Republicans warned that such a move by Reid, which they called a “nuclear option,” would have soured bipartisan talks on pending budget and debt legislation. The proposal passed on two separate votes — 78 to 16 and 86 to 9 — that implemented the new rules.
The new rules will essentially short-circuit one filibuster vote during the “motion to proceed” to a bill, when the chamber begins considering legislation. Republicans have increasingly filibustered the motion to begin debating legislation to slow the passage of bills or block them.
Left-wingers hate that the Founding Fathers put the filibuster rule in the US Constitution. It stops them from setting up a dictatorship.
GOP senators say they use the move because Reid has been employing an even more arcane maneuver that prevents them from offering amendments to legislation. So the new reforms, crafted by Sens. Carl Levin(D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), will guarantee that the opposing side will be able to offer at least two amendments if Reid tries to avert a chance to do so.