Dems Defend Filibuster Reform Effort: ‘McConnell Has Broken The Social Contract’
This is way overdue, people are extremely tired of the petit tyrants in the GOP minority blocking everything.
On the Senate floor Monday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell railed against his counterpart, Harry Reid, and a ‘cohort of short-sighted Senate sophomores,’ for proposing to modify the Senate’s filibuster rules on the first day of the 113th Congress to limit the extent to which the minority can gum up legislative business.
‘Does [Reid] believe that on the day he finds himself in the minority once again that he should no longer be heard?’ McConnell asked, ‘Or does he think that Democrats will remain in the majority from now until the end of time?’
In a Monday interview, one of the supposedly short-sighted sophomores said, contra McConnell, the reforms Democrats are proposing could in theory go much farther, but are being designed with future power shifts in mind.
‘The point I would make is that I’ve said from the outset is that a test of a good proposal is whether or not you could live with serving under it in the minority,’ said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). ‘That’s why the talking filibuster is the right way to go. McConnell has broken the social contract. His team, under his leadership, uses it constantly and silently, out of public sight. Really the proposal I put forward restores the basic elements that existed in the past, and I’m quite happy to live under that structure as a minority. … [That] has been part of every conversation I’ve had with colleagues. … If we’re in the minority and we’re blocking something, we should be accountable to the public.’
Changes to the Senate rules are rare, typically minor, and usually require 67 votes be implemented. But Democrats can avail themselves of a complicated, arcane procedure in January and amend the rules as they choose with an easier 50-plus-one majority.
The changes Democrats are considering wouldn’t eliminate the filibuster, and would thus preserve the Senate minority’s enormous power over legislative affairs. But the new rules, if adopted, would make it harder — possibly significantly harder — for the minority to successfully block legislation than it currently is.