As reported by my colleague, Nathaniel Downes here at Addicting Info, the Senate passed a filibuster reform bill last Thursday receiving mixed reviews by both conservatives and progressives alike. According to The Heritage Foundation:
Reid envisions a Senate that procedurally mirrors the House of Representatives, not the Senatorial saucer where legislation is poured from the House to cool, as the Founders intended.
How is it that the Heritage Foundation knows the intentions of our Founders, especially since the word filibuster does not even appear in our Constitution? Answer: They couldn’t know, and they don’t! In fact, the filibuster remained nothing more than a theoretical notion until 1830, when it was first introduced into the legislative body.
Alternatively, progressives hoping to end what they perceived as an abuse of the procedural tool seem just as dismayed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), after several weeks of threatening filibuster reform while conveying he had the essential votes to pass a bill providing such serious reform, decided to compromise with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) instead. While the compromise provides change to the way measures are considered within the legislative body while expediting consideration of judicial nominees, the Bill falls short of what many progressives had hoped for. Ezra Klein, from the Washington Post reports:
But for now, Republicans have little to fear. The filibuster is safe. Even filibusters against the motion to proceed are safe. And filibuster reformers have lost once again.
So what happened? After hearing Senator Reid rant for several weeks about how things needed to change in the Senate–even going so far as to threaten the Republicans in the Senate with the “nuclear option“–why is it that the majority of the procedure remains intact? Senator Reid provided the following explanation to Klein:
I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold.” He continued: “With the history of the Senate, we have to understand the Senate isn’t and shouldn’t be like the House. [sic]
Unfortunately, Reid’s explanation did not squelch criticism from progressive talking heads in the media such as Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and a host of others. Below is perhaps one of the more emotional responses to Reid’s compromise with McConnell provided by Ed Schultz, host of The Ed Show on MSNBC:
One man, however, is extremely happy with the outcome of this compromise, so much so, that he had his Campaign Manager, Jesse Benton, fire out a smug email to supporters shortly after the measure passed early Thursday morning. His name? Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
The email–with the salutation “Dear Patriot”–has as its subject line “We Beat the Liberals” (emphasis McConnell’s). Despite the Senator’s victory, he apparently had a need to engage in hyperbole when attempting to describe precisely what progressives were seeking in this dispute:
A group of the Senate’s most liberal Senators, fueled by left-wing groups like Move On, have been pushing a dangerous scheme to change the rules of the United States Senate and fundamentally alter the checks and balances of our system.
You see, they had been pushing a plan to end the filibuster, allowing Harry Reid and the Obama Democrats to pass their agenda with a simple majority.
Well, Mitch McConnell stood strong and stopped that scheme dead in its tracks.
But perhaps most telling about McConnell’s intentions are conveyed by Benton when he made this statement:
I am just a grassroots campaigner, so I am no expert on the finer points of Senate parliamentary procedure, but I can tell you this: bottom line, Mitch McConnell saved the ability of Republicans to filibuster any bill at 60 votes. Period.
You can read the entire email sent by McConnell’s campaign manager here.
So let me ask you, the reader: Did real reform take place with this compromise? Or, do you echo Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IOWA) sentiment when, expressing dismay at the reached “compromise,” he said “the President may as well take a four-year vacation” should real filibuster reform not take place? I truly do look forward to your respective opinions regarding the matter!
Dr. Bear is a political writer for Addicting Info and Voice 4 America. He also contributes to a blog; Blogging Blue. Dr. Bear works in the field of Social and Consumer Psychology. He holds degrees in Psychology and Theology. In addition, Dr. Bear works as a professional consultant assisting organizations in improving their respective organizational culture and employee performance. As a proud progressive, Dr. Bear and his wife Susan, reside in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and have been happily married for 29 years. He has a passion for reading, history, research, statistical analysis and writing. He also has a love for dogs and has a Schnauzer named Shadow. Dr. Bear invites you to follow him on Facebook or Twitter so you can read all of his contributions.