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Friday, January 25, 2013

As Expected, Filibuster Reform Becomes Filibuster Refined

By Susan Duclos

Conservatives said, time and again that all Harry Reid's bluster and talk of stripping the filibuster from the Senate or making meaningful "reforms" that would prevent the minority party from filibustering, was nothing more than Reid spewing nonsense.

As has been pointed out multiple times, had Reid actually done such a thing, bills passed by limiting the minority voice would never make it through the Republican controlled House of Representatives, with Speaker John Boehner saying it would be "dead on arrival" and should Democrats lose the majority in the Senate in 2014, their own "reform" would have stripped them of everything filibuster reform supporters wanted to take away from Republicans now.

Wonkblog- Harry Reid: “I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold

Long term, it would have been biting off their nose to spite their face.

So, the highly touted filibuster reform became nothing more than filibuster refined by the time party leaders reached a deal.

I'll let the disappointed liberals explain:

Ezra Klein

But the deal Reid struck with McConnell doesn’t end the filibuster against the motion to proceed. Rather, it creates two new pathways for moving to a new bill. In one, the majority leader can, with the agreement of the minority leader and seven senators from each party, sidestep the filibuster when moving to a new bill. In the other, the majority leader can short-circuit the filibuster against moving to a new bill so long as he allows the minority party to offer two germane amendments. Note that in all cases, the minority can still filibuster the bill itself.

A pro-reform aide I spoke to was agog. “Right now, you have to negotiate with McConnell to get on a bill,” he said. “Tomorrow, if this passes, you still need to negotiate with McConnell to get on a bill. It changes nothing on how we move forward.”

Klein concludes:

But for now, Republicans have little to fear. The filibuster is safe. Even filibusters against the motion to proceed are safe. And filibuster reformers have lost once again.

Another liberal site: TPM- "Filibuster Reform Ends With A Whimper: How It Fell Apart"

Reformers in and out of the Senate believe that Reid tapped into their enthusiasm to advance his goal. “Reid said he wants to make it easier to move on bills,” said a pro-reform aide. “This doesn’t do that. He still has to negotiate with McConnell to get on a bill. It’s a negligible difference to how the Senate operates today.”

The outside reform source accused Reid of “a total 180 reversal.”

“Everything we were seeing led us to believe … that he was very serious about including [the shifting of the burden component],” the source said. “But that all hinged on him using the constitutional option, which I don’t think he ever really intended to do.”

Seems Reid came to the conclusion that in politics, the landscape can change with just one election and historically a president's party loses congressional seats in midterm elections, especially a president's second term.

20 Democratic Senate seats are on the ballot for the 2014 midterm elections (22 with special elections) and 13 Republican Senate seats. Almost all the Republican Senate seats are in safe states, while a number of Democratic Senate seats are in right of the center states and considered vulnerable.

If Democrats lose control of the US Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, these disappointed reform supporters can, should, and will be thanking Harry Reid for preserving the filibuster.