After months of whining about the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) came up with an agreement on the filibuster that will stall attempts by Senate Democrats to go nuclear:
The Reid-McConnell package would create a new path for eliminating filibusters on motions to proceed to new business. Under current rules, a senator can hold up a motion to even begin debating legislation.
The majority leader would be able to bar a filibuster on a motion to proceed if he allows each side to vote on two amendments, according to a Senate aide familiar with the package. Non-germane amendments would be subject to a 60-vote threshold, under this scenario.
This change would be adopted as a standing order that would sunset after two years, creating a trial period. Sixty senators must vote for it.
Alternatively, the deal would allow for expedited consideration of motions to proceed in cases where the majority and minority leaders agree to bring up a measure and eight senators from each party — including the leaders – sign a petition to end debate. Such fast-track consideration of motions to proceed would be set up by permanent rules change requiring 67 votes.
The tentative deal would expedite the process for sending legislation to conference negotiations with the House. But lawmakers would still be allowed to filibuster any effort to send legislation to a Senate-House negotiation.
Despite all of his complaints and threats about use of the procedural tactic, Sen. Reid told the Washington Post that he is “not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold.” Some leftists in the Senate suggested that they had the votes to go nuclear, but Reid backed off. Of course, that has upset the Democratic-base.
Reid coming to his senses and backing down from destroying minority rights is a wise move because, as John Samples explains, “Majority rule is not the norm in American politics, nor should it be.” The impact of the deal obviously remains to be seen, but at least the option to kill bad legislation is still around.