Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Filibuster reform looks unlikely

Via mistermix at Balloon Juice, it looks like filibuster reform is not going to happen any time soon.
Amid a long-running dispute over decades-old filibuster rules, Senate leaders have used a parliamentary trick to leave the chamber in a state of suspended animation - in reality adjourned since Jan. 5 but officially considered in a long recess that's part of the same individual legislative day.
This nearly three-week break has taken place in large part so leadership could hold private negotiations to consider how to deal with a group of Democrats agitating to shake up the foundation of the world's most deliberative body, right down to challenging the filibuster.
To the dismay of a younger crop of Democrats and some outside liberal activists, there is no chance that rules surrounding the filibuster will be challenged, senior aides on both sides of the aisle say, because party leaders want to protect the right of the Senate's minority party to sometimes force a supermajority of 60 votes to approve legislation.
I'm pretty sure that nobody was proposing to get rid of the filibuster altogether, so that last sentence is a bit misleading.  The idea of reform was to make the minority actually have to put up some effort to block legislation as opposed to abusing it to block any and every bill without even having to hold the floor.

Some other rule changes look like they might happen (most notably changing how secret holds are done if not getting rid of them altogether), but the lack of filibuster reform is disappointing.

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