Democrats in the Senate are considering restricting Republican filibuster rights, and given heated GOP opposition, the result may be paralysis.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is mulling the possibility of prohibiting filibusters used to prevent debate from even starting and House-Senate conference committees from ever meeting, Politico
reports. He also may force Senators making a filibuster to stay on the floor talking the whole time, just like in the old days.
Reid is even considering lowering the vote requirement for changing Senate rules to 51 votes from the standard 67.
Needless to say, Republicans aren’t taking all this lying down. “I think the backlash will be severe,” conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told Politico. “If you take away minority rights, which is what you’re doing because you’re an ineffective leader, you’ll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we’ll do what we have to do to fight back.”
Senate GOP whip, Texas Sen. John Cornyn agrees. “It will shut down the Senate,” he told the news service. “It’s such an abuse of power.”
There is actually bipartisan criticism of the potential changes, The New York Times reports. Members of both parties worry that rules making it easier for the majority party to have its way would push policy back and forth according to which party holds power, eliminating the chance for policy stability.
A large part of the Senate’s problem now is the difficulty the two parties have getting along, Tom Daschle, a former Democratic majority leader, tells The Times. “Both the majority and minority feel as if their backs are against the wall, and they have no choice but to fight. The majority wants to govern, the minority wants its rights, and those two are almost irreconcilable these days.”
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