Democrats look to change Senate filibuster rules

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Democrats on the hill, frustrated after their party lost their 60-seat majority in the Senate following the election of Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown in January, could be looking at changing the filibuster rules soon. 

Liberal progressives at the Netroots Nation conference last weekend held a focus on the Senate and discussed ways to reform the Senate filibuster. 

“This Republican Senate has started abusing the rules, so we’re going to have to change it,” said Senator Reid to Netroots Nation activists in Las Vegas.

“We do not have a plan fully developed yet, but we’re looking at ways to change it.”

Senator Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, who described himself as “impatient” on moving progressive issues as conference attendees during his speech on Saturday evening told Think Progress,

“I think we’re going to be looking very closely at filibuster reform. I think there will be, it’s just, I’m not sure exactly what form it’ll take. But I think there will be reform, and it’ll have to happen, I think, at that point when the new Senate comes in.”

Senator Michael Bennet, Colorado Democrat, already laid out plans in March to change Senate filibuster rules:

I will introduce legislation that will reform Senate procedure to encourage the two parties to work together to get things done. it will eliminate anonymous holds. If senators want to single-handedly stop a nominee from being approved, then they should have the courage to do so publicly. It will introduce a new procedure to allow us to reduce the time of debate so that we can move on legislation that has broad bipartisan support. Third, it will eliminate the filibuster on the motion to proceed. It’s one thing to try to block a piece of legislation. It’s another thing to prevent it from even being debated in the first place.

And finally, my legislation would change the rules of the filibuster to force the two parties to actually talk to each other and not past each other. The president reminded us during the state of the union that our job is not to get elected, and I have heard the same thing from thousands of Coloradans in hundreds of living rooms and town halls. It’s easy to throw our hands up in the air and wait for someone else to make the big changes we need, but we all know that the American people deserve better. I know the people of Colorado expect much more. They know that the United States Senate needs a big dose of Colorado common sense.

Senate rule changes require 67 votes, though, and other political observers are pointing out that the GOP is likely to pick up seats in November, and the Democrats would need Republican votes to make such a rule change happen—a very tough road ahead for Democrats indeed.


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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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