Video: Harry Reid vs. Harry Reid on the Filibuster
posted at 2:02 pm on December 7, 2012 by Guy Benson
Before you watch this clip, go read Dustin’s grist-for-the-mill post about filibuster “reform.” Additional background on the issue is available here. And now, here’s our Senate Majority/Minority leader making an impassioned case for/against changing the chamber’s longstanding filibuster rules (via the Senate Republican Conference):
In case you were curious, this man’s national job approval rating stands at 24 percent. Liberals may protest that Republicans’ 2005 proposed (and abandoned) rule changes were substantively different than the package Democrats are considering now. This is true. The GOP sought to eliminate filibusters on judicial appointments, arguing that the Constitution’s “advise and consent” clause made no mention of a super-majority threshold for confirmation. Indeed, the framers even debated including a provision that would have required a super-majority to block a presidential appointment. Democrats vehemently objected (“Un-American!”) at the time, leading to the Gang of 14 compromise — which averted any formal alterations to Senate protocol. Come January, Democrats will control 55 Senate seats, the same number Republicans held when they flirted with the nuclear option nearly eight years ago.
Reid’s caucus is looking to shift several filibuster regulations, including the elimination of cloture votes on motions to proceed. Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) recently told me that although this concept seems innocuous, the initial vote to green-light debate on a piece of legislation is absolutely critical because that moment represents the peak of the minority’s leverage. By stalling or threatening to block the advancement of a bill, the minority party can effectively demand a hand in shaping the debate — for example, by negotiating votes on amendments. (Not amendments, mind you, votes on amendments). Once a motion to proceed has been adopted, the majority dominates the process from that point forward. Harry Reid has abused this power, regularly denying Republicans the opportunity to offer amendments by employing a maneuver called “filling the amendment tree.” He’s done so more than his six immediate predecessors combined. This explains why Republicans, shut out from offering any amendments, have retaliated by launching the “record number” of filibusters we often hear about in the media. Reid has also already changed Senate rules once in order to box out a Republican attempt to force a tough vote on the president’s jobs plan in 2011.
Ultimately, though, the differences between the 2005 and 2012 filibuster reform plans are immaterial. The video above shows Reid strenuously opposing filibuster rule changes on principle. He insisted in 2005 that he would “never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules,” which is how Democrats referred to simple-majority rule changes back then. Now he’s shrugging it off; hey, “rules change around here.” Shameless.
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