Call it an unfortunate display of bi-partisanship, but Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell announced a five-point agreement on Senate rules reform. And it didn’t include filibuster reform.
So much for trying to break through the logjam in Congress.
Instead what the Senators agreed to are less sweeping changes. Among the agreed changes currently reported include limiting the ability of lawmakers to halt votes on bills and nominations through anonymous objections and ending the ability of senators to eat time by requiring the reading of lengthy amendments if they had been publicly available for sufficient time. The Senate would also no longer require votes to confirm about 400 White House nominees, including midlevel positions.
According to reports, the compromise hinges on plans for Senate leaders to informally agree to allow Republicans the chance to offer more amendments to measures in return for a pledge not to block bills from coming to the floor.
But such a compromise begs the question of whether or not Senate Republicans can be trusted to keep their word.
That filibuster reform is dead is not really that surprising. Enacting a true reform would have effectively ended the tyranny of the minority that’s driven Senate procedure as of late. And while the 111th Congress saw plenty of bills die in the Senate that, under simple majority voting, had the votes to pass but couldn’t beat a filibuster threat, clearly Reid and other Democrats were concerned that their status as the majority party may be about to change.
So, once again, when bold action was required the Senate decided to punt.
photo courtesy of steakpinball via Flickr