Filibuster Reform This Week? GOP Finally Joins Negotiating Table

Senate Republicans Hold Leadership Elections
Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reported progress in discussions with the Republican party over filibuster reform. As reported at the New York Times on Tuesday, Senator Reid, after meeting with his caucus, is reported as saying:

I’ve had some positive meetings with Senator McConnell. During the recess, our staffs worked on this. We had another meeting today. I hope that within the next 24 to 36 hours we can get something to agree on.

But, should the GOP stomp their feet and refuse to act, Reid had a warning:

We’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done.

He claims to have the votes from his own caucus to push forward with filibuster reform, so it now is a case of honor for Reid. After the disrespectful way in which the GOP broke their word last session, Reid is no longer accepting their word and a handshake. Now the changes must go in the rules.

But, Reid is an honorable and respectful man. He is willing to listen, to welcome them to the negotiating table, but if they do not come up with, or accept a solution which is acceptable–a solution which would halt filibuster abuse which prevents legislation even from hitting the floor to debate–he can simply pull the trigger and put into place rules without Republican input or cooperation.

This is now all on the Republicans in the Senate. This is a test of their ability to function. If they do nothing, then they have no voice in shaping the new rules at all. If they make unreasonable demands, they will get nothing as well. Now the Republicans have to actually pull themselves together, and function as a caucus to govern and not obstruct, or risk losing their voice entirely in the next caucus.

The proposed rule changes are not yet fully public, and Senator Reid is giving the Republicans a chance to weigh in. Options on the table include forcing the talking filibuster, to eliminate the filibuster entirely, options for amendment proposal submission, there are several options to explore. Reid knows he can put into place the most draconian punishments, but instead is being the statesman, and offering them the chance to fight the urge to slit their own throat.

Whatever else comes out of negotiations this week, the filibuster, as abused by the GOP for the past 4 years, is not exiting the negotiation room.

Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.

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