Moving On The Filibuster

by Chris Bodenner

Ezra Klein reacts to the release of a letter from Senate Democrats to Reid demanding reform:

It's no surprise that some Senate Democrats want to see the practice reworked. What's remarkable is that all Senate Democrats want to see it reworked. It's not just the young senators like Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall and Michael Bennett, but the older veterans like Barbara Mikulski and Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin. Their unity stems from an unlikely source: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has mounted more filibusters in the past two years than occurred in the ’50s and ’60s combined.

Uncontroversial bills like an extension of unemployment benefits that passed 97-0 and food-safety legislation that passed with 73 votes frequently faced multiple filibusters and months of delay. The minority has been so relentless and indiscriminate in deploying the once-rare failsafe that the majority has finally decided to do something about it.

They may not do much -- at least this year. But even doing a little matters. It puts the minority on notice that the filibuster is not sacrosanct.

William A. Jacobson doubts there will be any meaningful reform:

So if Democrats change the filibuster rule, will they be shooting themselves in the foot? In 2012 there is a reasonable likelihood of a Republican majority in both houses of Congress.  If Obama loses, and Republicans find themselves in the position Democrats have been in the past two years, things could get very interesting with relaxed filibuster rules.  Even if Obama wins, the ability of a Republican Senate to pass on legislation to Obama -- requiring a veto -- will be an important political tool.