Earlier today, the Senate passed a “scaled-back filibuster deal.” Sahil Kapur provides an overview:
The new rules would permit a Senate majority to bypass the filibuster on a motion to proceed to debate with the condition that either a group of senators on each side of the aisle agrees, or the minority is guaranteed the chance to offer amendments. The new rules limit debate time for sub-cabinet and district court nominations and reduces the number of required hours between cloture and final confirmation from 30 to two. It also lowers the number of cloture motions required to go to conference with the House.
Brian Beutler “can’t call them filibuster reforms, because they don’t reform the modern filibuster at all.” He explains why senators don’t really want changes:
If you enjoy using the threat of killing legislation to lock in goodies for your state or paymasters, then you probably don’t support any effort that will limit or eliminate your power to impose a supermajority requirement. The other side of that coin is that a supermajority requirement often allows senators to “support” legislation they’re actually happy to see fail. If, say, breaking up big banks is important to your constituents but abhorrent to your party or your donors, then being the 58th vote for a bill to break up big banks is actually hitting the sweet spot.
Chait sums up today’s developments:
Basically, what happened here is that the good government instinct met the senatorial ego, and the latter prevailed because it is the most powerful force on Earth.
Let us not forget that the extension of this massive new abuse of power is due as much to the Democrats as to the Republicans. Harry Reid effectively surrendered to a relatively recent and indefensible abuse of the filibuster. If you want to know why however much I lament the current state of the GOP – which is infinitely worse than the Democrats – then this is why my disdain for the Democrats endures. They’re pathetic. And it’s always worth remembering what a pile of luke-warm ordure lies behind the empty suit of Reid.
(Photo: Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks about the debt ceiling, on January 23, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate Democrats discussed the House’s scheduled vote on suspending the debt ceiling. By Mark Wilson/Getty Images.)