U.S. Senate leaders are reportedly close to a deal that would avert the so-called “nuclear option” regarding the changing of filibuster rules. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have been in talks all week about how to move forward.
Under current Senate rules, it would take a two-thirds majority to change how filibusters can be used in the chamber. Some Democratic Senators want to change the rules with a simple 51-majority vote. Democrats accuse Republicans of using the threat of a filibuster to hold up legislation and judicial appointments. Republicans point out Democrats did the same thing when they briefly found themselves in the Senate minority during the George W. Bush administration.
The online political journal Politico reports Reid and McConnell could announce as early as today a compromise that would keep the filibuster as a viable option, but would pare back its use in several instances.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are reportedly engaged in negotiations over the use of the filibuster. The online journal Politico says Reid is weighing whether to change the filibuster rules with a 51 vote majority, instead of a two-thirds majority.
Democrats, who control the Senate, have long complained about what they consider Republican abuse of the filibuster. It’s become common for members of the Senate to effectively kill legislation and block judicial appointments by just threatening a filibuster.
Both Reid and McConnell say the Senate isn’t functioning as it should, but McConnell says the problem isn’t GOP use of the filibuster.
Some Senators, like Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, are nervous about changing the rules that govern filibusters.
The negotiations between the Senate leaders is expected to continue Wednesday, with Reid saying he hopes to have a deal in place by Thursday.
Tennessee’s senior U.S. Senator is speaking out against proposed changes to the filibuster. Republican Lamar Alexander says efforts to limit filibusters would cost the Senate its historic function as a brake on legislation that otherwise might be rushed through the chamber.
The 72-year-old Alexander tells The Tennessean says without the filibuster the Senate would become “just like the House”, where a simple majority vote would win each time. When a Senator engages in a filibuster, it takes 60 votes to bring it to an end, so that the legislation in question can be considered for a vote.
Some Democrats are talking openly about changing Senate rules in January that would allow a simple majority vote to change the filibuster policy, as opposed to the 67 votes that have been the standard.