McConnell, Reid agree on rules reform package

posted at 1:11 pm on January 24, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Get ready for plenty of liberal howling over this outcome, because Harry Reid made the mistake of overpromising and underdelivering.  Reid’s vow to use the nuclear option to get rid of the filibuster turned into only a limitation on how many filibusters the minority can stage on one issue.  The filibuster otherwise lives — even for judicial appointments, although somewhat restricted:

Progressive senators working to dramatically alter Senate rules were defeated on Thursday, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), set to announce a series of compromise reforms on the Senate floor that fall far short of the demands. The language of the deal was obtained by HuffPost and can be read here and here.

The pressure from the liberal senators, led by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and backed by a major coalition of progressive groups, created the political space for Reid to cut the deal with McConnell, which does include changes to how the Senate operates, but leaves a fundamental feature, the silent filibuster, in place.

The deal would address the filibuster on the motion to proceed, which had regularly prevented the Senate from even considering legislation and was a major frustration for Reid. The new procedure will also make it easier for the majority to appoint conferees once a bill has passed, but leaves in place the minority’s ability to filibuster that motion once — meaning that even after the Senate and House have passed a bill, the minority can still mount a filibuster one more time.

Reid won concessions on judicial nominations as well. Under the old rules, after a filibuster had been beaten, 30 more hours were required to pass before a nominee could finally be confirmed. That delay threatened to tie the chamber in knots. The new rules will only allow two hours after cloture is invoked.

Yes, but the filibuster still applies, and the post-cloture debate was moot anyway.  The only really significant changes to the filibuster itself is that it can no longer be applied to a motion to proceed, but only to a floor vote, and that Senators must be present to filibuster.  It still takes 60 votes to gain cloture, and it still means that bills — like, say, Dianne Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban – will have to gain significant Republican support to pass.

Dave Weigel breaks down the impact of the agreement:

We now have a comprehensive look at the filibuster reform package accepted by Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid. It’ll be schlepped to Democrats at an early afternoon meeting. And yes, it functionally ends the campaign for the “talking filibuster,” and for putting the burden of filibusters on the minority to get 41 no votes, instead of on the majority to get 60 ayes.

“It looks a lot like McCain-Levin,” says a Democratic aide.

And it does. … But the onus of the filibuster remains with the majority. Senators will remain able to place holds, and the holds will have to be broken with 60 votes — for this Congress, those will be bipartisan votes.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the prospect of living under any other rules in the minority after 2014 prompted some moderate Democrats to slow down the “reform” train, as well as the prospect of setting a 51-vote precedent for rules changes and placing it in Republican hands in 2015. Instead of dictating an end to the filibuster, Reid ended up settling for a compromise that refines it, but essentially leaves it in the hands of the minority.

It looks as though McConnell got his wish in reforming the amendment process, too.  The first section gives the right to the minority to offer amendments in rotation with the majority, which means Reid can no longer “fill the tree” by introducing enough amendments to shut out Republicans, although the schedule becomes constricted significantly if cloture is invoked for both the majority and minority.

This is a smart play for both Democrats and Republicans in trying to repair the reputation of the upper chamber.  Reid, however, will come out looking like the big loser not so much for what he gave up, but for what he promised and then failed to deliver.

Update: Actually, as Ezra Klein explains, even the motion to proceed can be filibustered, although the new rules offer a work-around:

But the deal Reid struck with McConnell doesn’t end the filibuster against the motion to proceed. Rather, it allows the chamber to sidestep the filibuster with agreement of the minority and majority leaders and seven senators from each party.

A pro-reform aide I spoke to was agog. “Right now, you have to negotiate with McConnell to get on a bill,” he said. “Tomorrow, if this passes, you still need to negotiate with McConnell to get on a bill. It changes nothing on how we move forward.” …

The filibuster is safe. Even filibusters against the motion to proceed are safe. And filibuster reformers have lost once again.

Klein asked Reid why he didn’t press harder for reform:

“I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” Reid (D-Nev.) told me this morning, referring to the number of votes needed to halt a filibuster. “With the history of the Senate, we have to understand the Senate isn’t and shouldn’t be like the House.”

In other words …. 2015.

Update: A parting thought from Erick Erickson:

Hmmmm.


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What has McConnell promised Reid in exchange for his agreement?

Archivarix on January 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Partial cave. Drapes still to be hung.

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Hahahahahahahahaha…..suck it LibTards!!

powerpickle on January 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Bish?

Tenwheeler on January 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Get ready for plenty of liberal howling over this outcome, because Harry Reid made the mistake of overpromising and underdelivering.

In other words, Harry hasn’t changed.

GarandFan on January 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

What has McConnell promised Reid in exchange for his agreement?

Archivarix on January 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Boehner’s nads?

Oh, right, that would be an empty promise.

Tenwheeler on January 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Reid, however, will come out looking like the big loser

America has been the biggest loser with this liberal dinosaur a$$hole running the Senate for the last 6 years.

gsherin on January 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

What has McConnell promised Reid in exchange for his agreement?

Archivarix on January 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Exactly! How did the right get hosed in this deal? Reid never does anything for nothing..

Static21 on January 24, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Dianne Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban – will have to gain significant Republican support to pass.

The R’s have our backs right?

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Get ready for plenty of liberal howling over this outcome, because Harry Reid made the mistake of overpromising and underdelivering.

You say that as if it is a bad thing.

IMO, Reid’s big mistake was even talking about reform in public. That encouraged the animals that make up the progressive right. People intent on helping their rat-eared idol in destroying the nation with no stake in how the process works in the Senate. They would be able to make short-term gains but would not have to live with the long-term consequences.

Happy Nomad on January 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Two walking Corpses fighting over a chin?

ToddPA on January 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM

“I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” Reid (D-Nev.) told me this morning, referring to the number of votes needed to halt a filibuster. “With the history of the Senate, we have to understand the Senate isn’t and shouldn’t be like the House.”

Hahahahahaha.. Reid sees the handwriting on the wall.

Translation: When Democrats lose the majority in the next mid-term, we want to be able to slow the Senate down.

But I absolutely agree, the Senate shouldn’t operate like the House. Repeal the 17th Amendment already.

ButterflyDragon on January 24, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Translation: I didn’t have 51 votes to change the rules and eliminate the filibuster, because most of my caucus knows we may be the minority in 2015.

rockmom on January 24, 2013 at 1:27 PM

ButterflyDragon on January 24, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Jinx!

rockmom on January 24, 2013 at 1:27 PM

McConnell:

I have agreed to a package of rule reforms that, in exchange for promises of a balanced budget amendment no later than 2020, no member of the republican caucus will object to any legislation offered by the democrat caucus for the next 4 years.

BobMbx on January 24, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Reid WANTS to keep the filibuster.

For all his yakking, he needs it around to prevent his party from formalizing dumb things.
Ironically, the filibuster can help Dems hold on to the Senate.

Jabberwock on January 24, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Much like the reach of Sauromon spreading across Middle earth, the Dark PROGRESSIVE Forces are marching across the U.S…..
o Feinstein & the Proggies seek to bind the power of the Constitution, wresting the right to Bear Arms away from Law-Abiding Americans…
o Already piling on over $6 TRILLION in new debt & securing the 1st-ever Credit rating Downgrade – and on the verge of another, Obama declares he will NOT Obey U.S. Law (which mandates an annual budget be passed), will NOT put any restraints on growing the size of govt by agreeing to budget cuts, and would like an end to all inconvenient future debt ceilings….
o Harry Reid threatens the (already cowering) GOP by declaring they will make the ‘nuclear option’ the ‘rule of law’ if McConnell doesn’t agree to willingly surrender of the GOP to oppose the Obama/Progressive un-chained Agenda…..

Obama sees himself as the Communist/Socialist ‘Ronald Reagan’…as promised, he intends to fundamentally change the U.S. What better way that to destroy the pesky flag-hugging, Constitution-defending, conservative party representing all of us who cling to our guns and religion once and for all?! Yeeha….

easyt65 on January 24, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Did anybody talk about the economy or jobs?

Nah. More important to address hissy-fit procedures.

fogw on January 24, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Do liberals have a gear other than “howl”?

TexasDan on January 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Perhaps in my (young-)old age, I have simply learned the joy of contentment…

…but, it seems to some of us on the Right side of things, that nothing will ever be good enough.

Maybe it’s localized to the small sub-set of us who comment on HotAir – but, it’s almost as though people don’t know what to do other than complain and look at things cynically.

This is a story that should give us some heart.

1) The Majority Party will not be able to ramrod things through (like the Democrats were hoping)

2) As Ed points out, Reid and some of the other Senate Dems seem to be acknowledging that their heyday is most likely just about over. They know they will be in the Minority before too long, so they didn’t go for a set of rule that gave the Majority a full out tyranny in the Senate.

RightWay79 on January 24, 2013 at 1:34 PM

I think this also shows that Harry Reid’s only goal for the last 4 years was getting Barack Obama reelected. Now that that has happened, he really doesn’t give a sh!t.

rockmom on January 24, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Two walking Corpses fighting over a chin?

ToddPA on January 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Lol! Apparently Harry already has the glass jaw.

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Do liberals have a gear other than “howl”?

TexasDan on January 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

“Howl”, “screech”, or “babble”.

Archivarix on January 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Translation: I didn’t have 51 votes to change the rules and eliminate the filibuster, because most of my caucus knows we may be the minority in 2015.

rockmom on January 24, 2013 at 1:27 PM

You are probably right, but that doesn’t make this any less a bit of good news.

thuja on January 24, 2013 at 2:01 PM

You were doing fine, then you quoted Dave Weigel, Ezra Klein, and Erick Erickson.

Not the way to do it.

Adjoran on January 24, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Adjoran on January 24, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Thought you were banned?

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 2:12 PM

I think the latest update to this thread has merit.

Erick Erikson

Would it be wrong to think Harry Reid surrendering on the filibuster may in some way be tied to the gun control fight?

And by that I mean the gun control fight endangers a number of Democratic Senators who, should they lose, the GOP will take the Senate.

bluefox on January 24, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Filibuster reform right now could have been catastrophic for this new assault weapons ban, above all else

And Reid is shaking in his pants thinking about giving up the gavel in 2015

I’m saying over and over– let them pursue this pointless gun control quest all year

Gun control will be for 2014 what Obamacare was for the 2010 midterms

Every second and drop of capital they waste on gun control now, means they have less ability to push all the other crap that they wanted this year (Amnesty, carbon tax, etc)

Obama will expend all his capital and goodwill quickly with nothing to show

thurman on January 24, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Do liberals have a gear other than “howl”?

TexasDan on January 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

“Howl”, “screech”, or “babble”.

Archivarix on January 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

I think you forgot the four-wheel, extra-low “makin’ sh!t up”.

bofh on January 24, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Gun control will be for 2014 what Obamacare was for the 2010 midterms

Every second and drop of capital they waste on gun control now, means they have less ability to push all the other crap that they wanted this year (Amnesty, carbon tax, etc)

Obama will expend all his capital and goodwill quickly with nothing to show

thurman on January 24, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Umm… “nothing to show”?? Obamacare may have affected the 2010 midterms, but last I looked, the sucker is law now.

I think they’d be happy to postpone the other stuff in return for putting a big dent in the constitution. In addition to partially disarming the population, it demonstrates to the sheeple that the old, wrinkly constitution “is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules”, facilitating their future plans.

bofh on January 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

McConnell, Reid agree on rules reform package

…for Harry to ignore later!

KOOLAID2 on January 24, 2013 at 3:13 PM

Some more great leadership from the Republican side of the aisle, the next thing we will see is McConnell wearing a pin asking for a third term for Obama. 100 senators in the senate and none of them are qualified to hold the position of dogcatcher.

savage24 on January 24, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Speaking of the filibuster, Republican Senators should promise / threaten that they will NOT filibuster any “gun control” bills. Make the red-state Democrat Senators vote on them.

Greg Q on January 24, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Alert! Received an urgent email from Senate Conservative Fund.

This is an update on the filibuster, email came in at 2:45PM this afternoon.

We just learned that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reached an agreement with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on a plan that will dramatically reduce the ability to debate and amend legislation in the Senate. This plan will do two things:
1. Shorten the time bills are actually debated to just 2 days
2. Eliminate all but 2 Republican amendments

The plan could be voted on as early as tonight so this is time sensitive. We’ve already notified conservative senators of our opposition to the plan and urged them to object to any agreement to expedite its consideration.
http://www.senateconservatives.com/?c=ec0f211f1373c0a6583f778ad7e2a8a0

bluefox on January 24, 2013 at 7:19 PM

This is a contact list for Senators:

http://www.senateconservatives.com/site/senators?c=ec0f211f1373c0a6583f778ad7e2a8a0

bluefox on January 24, 2013 at 7:31 PM