Reid promises action on filibuster this week
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks with reporters following a Democratic strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. / AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today he's had "some positive meetings" with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about reforming the filibuster. However, if Democrats and Republicans can't come to an agreement over the issue within the next day or two, Reid said Democrats would move forward on their own.
"I hope within the next 24 to 36 hours, we can get something we agree on," Reid told reporters today. "If not, we're going to move forward on what I think needs to be done. The [Senate Democratic] caucus will support me on that."
Reid has a unique opportunity right now to change the filibuster rules, since legal scholars on both sides of the aisle have agreed that the Senate can change its rules with a simple, 51-vote majority at the start of a new Congress. The first day of the 113th congressional session started on Jan. 3, but Reid technically kept the "first day" going by never adjourning (while the Senate never adjourned after the first day, they have "recessed.")
Currently, any individual member of the Senate can "filibuster" a bill -- and thereby block debate on it -- by simply putting a hold on the bill and then proceeding on to other business. Since 1975, Senate rules have said it takes 60 lawmakers to overrule a filibuster.
Some Democrats want to change the rules so that if a member wants to block debate on a bill, he must keep talking on the Senate floor (in the way filibustering was famously portrayed in the 1939 film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"). Some senators have floated more moderate proposals, including one that would require at least 41 votes to keep a filibuster alive.
Earlier today on the Senate floor, Reid said the Senate would first consider legislation for Superstorm Sandy relief and then consider changes to the Senate rules.
"We will explicitly not acquiesce in the carrying over of all the rules from the last Congress," he said. "I am hopeful the Republican leader and I will reach an agreement that allows the Senate to operate more effectively."
Popular in Politics
- Obama prom pictures surface 103 Comments
- IRS official Lois Lerner placed on leave
- Rep. Jo Bonner to resign from House for university job
- Protester heckles Obama during counterterrorism speech Play Video
- Obama: America at a "crossroads" in fighting terrorism 106 Comments
- Obama announces steps toward Guantanamo closure
- Obama: The war on terror, "like all wars, must end" Play Video
- Obama to tour Jersey Shore with Gov. Christie