Jan 22, 2013
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that he's ready to use the "nuclear option" allowing a simple majority to reform the "untamed menace" of the filibuster, indicating that it doesn't matter whether his Republican cohorts are with him or not.
"I hope that within the next 24 to 36 hours we can get something we agree on. If not, we're going to move forward on what I think needs to be done," Reid told reporters, adding, "The caucus will support me on that."
If unable to reach bipartisan agreement, Huffington Post reports that Reid will muscle in the reforms using, what opponents call, a "nuclear option" which only requires a simple majority, rather than the usual two-thirds vote, so that they chamber can adopt new rules at the start of each term.
Senior Democrats have previously expressed reluctance to use this tactic, saying they feared it would set a dangerous precedent.
The filibuster, which allows the minority party to hold up Senate business by requiring a 60-vote threshold, has long-stifled legislative. However, in recent years we've seen an uptick in abuse "crippling not just the upper house, but the entire legislative branch of government," said Diana Kasdan, counsel in the Brennan Center's Democracy Program.
During the recently departed 112th Congress, Republicans mounted or threatened to mount nearly 400 filibusters, "blocking everything from equal pay for equal work and jobs bills to immigration reform and judicial appointments," according to a recent episode of Moyers & Company.
Noting that the party in the majority always wants to reform it, until that same party winds up in the minority and wants to keep it, Bill Moyers declared the practice "a triumph of hypocrisy."
In the wake of Reid's announcement, everyone from environmentalists to workers' rights groups urged their followers to call their local Senator, declaring, "We may be on the verge of ending obstructionism in the Senate."
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