Fish-in-a-barrel fun from BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, co-starring a future president of the United States who loved the filibuster so much that he once tried to use it to torpedo a Supreme Court nomination. Since then the numbers in the Senate have changed, and now so will the rules — maybe:
In a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, McConnell questioned the post-election judgment of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposing changes to filibuster rules that would limit the power of Republicans to stop legislation in the Senate.
He suggested that Reid’s proposal threatens the possibility of bipartisanship cooperation.
“The last thing on my list would have been to throw a bomb into the Senate, have it blow up and have everybody mad as heck,” McConnell said, referencing Reid’s filibuster proposals after the election. “I’m just perplexed about the judgment on display here.”
Here’s what he means by throwing a bomb into the Senate:
So here’s what is likely to happen, according to a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide. Dems will likely pass reforms that include ending the filibuster on the motion to proceed and on on motions to move to conference; and forcing “talking filibusters,” which would require a much more public role for filibustering.
Dems may not change the rules on the first day of the session. Rather, the aide says, they are likely to do a rules change, almost certainly in January, via what’s known as overruling the chair. Democrats ask the chair for a ruling on whether it is within the rules to, say, filibuster the motion to proceed. When the chair says Yes, Dems overrule it by a simple majority vote. And so on with the other provisions.
Let me play devil’s advocate. Should McConnell reconsider and go along with the changes? The GOP needs to pick up six seats in 2014 to reclaim a Senate majority. The Democrats have to defend 20 seats and at least six of them — the magic number — are in red states. Rumors of Democratic retirements before then are already swirling, which would make things even easier for the GOP. If, if, Boehner thinks he can hold the Republican caucus together in the House, then letting Democrats nuke the filibuster in the Senate won’t get them much closer to passing the left’s agenda but it will set a precedent that McConnell can use in 2014 to ram Republican bills through with simple majorities. Yeah, granted, Obama would only end up vetoing anything the GOP Congress passed, but that in itself could be useful strategically ahead of the next presidential free-for-all in 2016. The great gamble in playing this angle, though, is that one of the conservatives on the Supreme Court might retire or die in the next two years; if the filibuster has already been nuked when that happens, suddenly you’re in a terrifying scenario where O can nominate any liberal he wants, no matter how far left, and be more or less assured that the Senate will rubber-stamp it. So McConnell can’t agree to nuke the filibuster across the board, but maybe he could make a deal with Reid to nuke it for normal legislation in exchange for maintaining it on presidential appointments. That’s what O, would-be filibusterer of Sam Alito, would want, right?
It’s risky business, no doubt, but if you’re in the “let it burn” camp when it comes to dealing with Democrats — i.e. let them pass their agenda and see how much good it does the country — then here’s one easy way to advance the ball. Unleash the Democratic “vision” of tax hikes and endless debt. Elections have consequences. Let the people have what they voted for.