Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to the media after a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington August 1, 2011.
attribution: REUTERS

Do the right thing, Harry.
Sen. Harry Reid needs to wrap up Senate rules reform, and also wants to achieve some kind of bipartisan agreement. You'd think by now he'd recognize that those two goals are utterly incompatible when it comes to trying to accomplish something significant. Perhaps he does, so perhaps that's why he's issued an ultimatum: come to an agreement within 36 hours or Democrats will do it on their own.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is giving Republican colleagues 36 hours to agree to a deal on filibuster reform or he will move forward with the nuclear option. “I hope in the next 24, 36 hours we can get something we agree on. If not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done,” Reid told reporters.
Reid’s trump card in negotiations with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is the threat he will change Senate rules with a simple majority vote, a tactic known as the nuclear option. This maneuver would allow Reid to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote, something that has never been done, according to parliamentary experts.
The Hill, by the way, is wrong. The nuclear option was what Republicans were talking about doing during the Bush Administration to block Democrats' filibuster of judicial nominees. It would have entailed Vice President Cheney, acting as presiding officer, declaring the filibuster of nominees unconstitutional. That's pretty nuclear, particularly considering it would have happened mid-Congress. The constitutional option, on the other hand, is what we're talking about here: the establishment of rules at the beginning of a Congress. It has been used numerous times since the cloture rule was established in 1917. In fact, Sen. Robert Byrd used it four times as majority leader to enact filibuster reform. The Hill needs to find new parliamentary experts. Daily Kos recommends they talk to this guy. If Reid's going to threaten to do this with 51 votes, and follow through on it, then he needs to make it count. That's by including either a talking filibuster or a strong proposal to force the minority to produce 41 actual votes whenever they want to obstruct a bill or nomination.
We've got 36 hours to send him that message.
Please send an email to your Democratic senator/s urging them to pass real filibuster reform including the talking filibuster and/or flipping the burden.
If you don't have a Democratic senator, call Reid's office at 202-224-3542, and tell him to include the talking filibuster and/or flipping the burden of the filibuster.
2:50 PM PT: Here's a critical piece of information:
[Reid] specified that he has the 51 votes he needs to proceed on a Democratic plan, indicating he's willing to pursue the "constitutional option" of changing the rules without the usual two-thirds vote.
He's got the votes to make this happen. The only way real reform happens is if he gives up on the fantasy of a gentlemen's agreement with McConnell, and uses the 51 votes to enact real reforms that can make the Senate function again.

 2nd Term

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