Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

They finally did it!

| The Senate has been tied in knots for years now, with every vote requiring 60 votes in support.

Actually that oversimplifies: the 60 votes have been required to break a filibuster, which the Republicans have been using for ev ery vote

I had been hard on Harry Reid because although he has threatened several times to change the rule that allows filibustering everything, he has always caved in. I had always understood that in order to change that rule it had to be done during the first session of a new Congress, but I was astonished to hear a former Senate Parliamentarian last week explain that the rule could be changed at any time by a rather simple strategem involving an appeal to the presiding officer to be decided by a majority vote as to whether the previous ruling should stand. (The Washington Post explains it better here.)

What brought this to a head, apparently, was the Republican filibuster of three nominees to fill the three vacancies on the DC circuit court. As an indicator of the depravity of the GOP, they called filling the vacancies "court packing" à la FDR. With a second-term Obama agenda essentially nullified by the House refusal to take up any measures supported by Democrats, Reid found himself with really nothing to lose. Oh, the Republicans are now pissed and are promising retribution as soon as they regain power. In fact, Mitch McConnell says Democrats are going to regret this "sooner than you think."

The vote to change the rule was largely on a party-line basis, but  three Democrats voted with the Republicans against the change:  Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark). Shame on them!

The only question to be asked now is, What the hell took so long?

 

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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