John Boehner (R-OH) says the filibuster changes threatened by Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid (D-NV) “is clearly designed to marginalize Senate Republicans and their constituents while greasing the skids for controversial, partisan measures.” As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Harry Reid has promised that on the first day of the new Congress in January, Democrats may start using a simple majority vote called the “nuclear option” to limit filibusters instead of the standard two-thirds, or 67, vote normally required to change any Senate rule.
In the upcoming Congress Democrats will control 54 seats in the Senate, with the Republicans controlling 45. Normally 60 votes are required to end a filibuster so congressional gridlock is unavoidable. With the fiscal cliff negotiations on the table this move by Democrats has infuriated Republicans.
According to POLITICO, Boehner released a statement questioning this filibuster rule change:
“I question the wisdom of this maneuver, especially at a time when cooperation on Capitol Hill is critical, and fully support Leader McConnell’s efforts to protect minority rights, which are an essential part of our constitutional tradition. “
Filibusters have a long history in the United States Congress. The idea is that the minority party be given the opportunity to speak without end to delay or prevent a vote on important issues. This is typically done so more negotiations can take place, but sometimes a filibuster is done to prevent any action at all.
In some cases the Senator doing the speaking has almost started falling asleep and had to be prodded into continuing. This is why years ago the Senate changed the filibuster rules, requiring that a Senator not be present for a non-stop “talking filibuster.” Harry Reid plans on reversing this rule as well.
While this filibuster rule change affects only the Senate, John Boehner plans on using the Republicans control of the House as a shield. Boehner says, “Any bill that reaches a Republican-led House based on Senate Democrats’ heavy-handed power play would be dead on arrival.”
Harry Reid’s filibuster plan would “forbid the use of filibusters when a bill is initially being brought to the Senate floor for debate and require filibustering senators to actually be on the Senate floor, a long-abandoned practice.” Republicans claim they use filibusters because Reid blocks them from presenting amendments to bill. Reid, in turn, says House Republicans use too much time pushing initiatives like trying to pass a budget, which the Senate Democrats have derided as political statements.
This is not the first time the nuclear option has been threatened. Back in 2005, when Bush was President and Republicans led a Senate majority, Majority Leader Bill Frist threatened to change filibuster rules on then-minority Democrats who were holding up the choosing of judicial nominees. The “Gang of 14” managed to avert the nuclear option by reaching a compromise.
For Boehner, filibuster rule changes are only intended to bypass attempts at reaching a compromise on revenue increases desired by Democrats and the President. Do you think Republicans should stand their ground or cave into Democrats demands to increases taxes on small businesses and the rich during a recession?