Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters yesterday that a rules change on the filibuster may come at the beginning of the next Congress:
“The filibuster has been abused,” Sen. Harry Reid said at a reporter’s briefing this afternoon. “But next Congress, we are going to take a look at it. And we’re going to make some changes in it.”
Reid’s embrace of filibuster reform comes after he previously threw cold water on the likelihood of getting the rules changed. His reference to the “next Congress” stands out. To change Senate rules in the middle of the session requires 67 votes, which Democrats clearly don’t have. But changing the rules at the beginning of the 112th Congress will require the chair to declare the Senate is in a new session and can legally draft new rules. That ruling would be made by Vice President Joe Biden, who has spoken out against the current abuse of the filibuster. The ruling can be appealed, but that appeal can be defeated with a simple majority vote.
Good luck undoing 200 years of Senate rules and tradition. Most pundits predict that Republicans will net anywhere from five to seven seats in the Senate, which could dwindle the Democrats’ majority down to 52 seats. Vulnerable Democrats in 2012, and there will be several, will not touch this is they want to be re-elected.
As an aside, someone explain to Mike Lillis the difference between a filibuster and an objection to unanimous consent, which is how Sen. Jim Bunning was blocking extension of unemployment benefits last week.