Filibuster Forecast: "Fireworks" on January 5th

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Over at the Huffington Post, Sam Stein reported last month on statements made by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) about the procedure that will be used to reform the filibuster on the first day of the new Congress - this Wednesday.

"There could be some fireworks. There could be some fireworks on January fifth," Harkin said at a pro-reform event sponsored by several like-minded organizations. "I'm going to be there. I'm armed. I'm armed with a lot of history, and I know the rules, and I know the procedures too, so we will see what happens on the fifth."

"[Former Sen.] Robert Byrd in 1975, the last time that we changed the rules and [brought the filibuster threshold] from 67 [votes] down to 60, actually stated on the floor that a majority, 51 senators, could change the rules. And that's what we intend to do and that is what we are working on right now. We are coming on the fifth to basically send a motion to the vice president ... that will change the rules and there is a procedure to provide 51 votes to do that. Robert Byrd said that in 1975 and that's what we are going to try to do."

Essentially, that path to reform requires Vice President Joe Biden -- who supports weakening the filibuster -- to rule on the first day of the next session that the Senate has the authority to write its own rules. Republicans, presumably, would immediately move to object, but Democrats could then move to table the objection, setting up a key up-or-down vote. If 50 Democrats voted to table the objection, the Senate would then move to a vote on a new set of rules, which could be approved by a simple majority.

So, set your alarm clocks and fire up C-SPAN2 for a view of history being made.

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    Is this going to happen for sure, or is this on someone's wish list?

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    Well, the Senate will be opening that day. They will swear in new members. They will take a vote to approve the rules. And someone, probably Tom Harkin, will move to amend the rules.

    What happens then, well, that's anybody's guess.

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    Why would the GOP object?

    There is a better than 50/50 chance they will be in the majority in the 113th Congress which will be sworn in on January of 2013.

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      Seems to me that the current system works fairly well for them. When the greedy old party is in power, the rich and powerful pretty much get what they want and when the Democrats actually gain control of Congress, they implement minority rule to protect their wealthy supporters. If I were a conservative Rescumlican or a right-wing billionaire I would certainly like to keep things just the way they are.

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        If I was a Republican, I would be putting campaign on ice in hopes that the Democrats kill the filibuster for them. So if they gain a single vote majority in the Senate, they can send whatever crazy-a•• stuff the now GOP-controlled House can cook up.

        And now, even when they were in the majority they were not get what they wanted. They wanted privatization of Social Security (before the bubble popped). It was dead before it even got into bill form because they knew they could never get to 60 on it.

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          My feeling is that no matter what party holds the majority, that that party ought to be able to propose legislation and get a simple majority vote on it. Right now the rules don't allow for that. If we want a government that can govern we need to change the rules sometime. If the country has to endure a Republican controlled Congress then so be it. If they continue to destroy the country then maybe they will get voted out.

          Sure, the Rescumlicans haven't got everything they wanted/exactly what they wanted, i.e., privatizing Social Security, but they have gotten a lot of what they wanted. I don't see fillibuster reform being good for their agenda in the long run, maybe in the short.

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            Sorry, but I refuse to water down Senate rules that would allow a simple majority vote to privatize Social Security.

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              I'm ready to play some offense. We need to be able to score some real points opposed to just stopping the other team from scoring, which the Dems aren't very good at anyway.

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    If the GOP gets the senate & WH they'd just gut the filibuster anyway. Frist backed off in 2005 from the "nuclear option" and took a lot of heat.

    Every GOP senator is looking over his shoulder at teabaggers threatening a primary challenge.

    Also they'd use reconciliation like they used for the 2001 tax cuts.

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