And Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR), the leading Senator on filibuster reform, says this time it's time to stop playing nice:He was asked if he's prepared to scale back the filibuster with the so-called nuclear option if Republicans don't ease their blockade on the nominees.
"I'm going to have a caucus on this Thursday," Reid said. "And I think Thursday by the time the day is out you'll have a better idea of what we're going to try to do on this." - TPM, 7/10/13
Merkley also brushed off any concerns about changing the filibuster rules if the Republicans were to become the majority party after the 2014 election:Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said that the fact that so-called “gentlemen’s agreements” with Republicans, and the weak reforms accompanying them, have failed “has not gone unnoticed.” “A third gentlemen’s agreement,” Merkley added, “is not an acceptable outcome.”
Significantly, however, Merkley concluded that the Senate needs a path to ensure up or down votes on “executive nominations.” A small number of Senate Democrats have indicated that they are willing to eliminate the filibuster on executive branch nominees, but that they may be more reluctant to do so on judicial nominees. If the Senate ultimately excludes judges from reform, it is likely that additional reforms will ultimately be required to ensure that Senate Republicans cannot hold up all confirmations on the nation’s second most powerful court — or ultimately filibuster anyone a Democratic president nominates to the Supreme Court. - Think Progress, 7/10/13
Merkley, as always, is absolutely right about this. It's time to stop worrying about the GOP regaining the majority and make the Senate function properly. Reid's office recently released a video of Senate Republicans blasting the filibuster back in 2005:He said that the level of concern about future repercussions when the roles reverse and a Republican president sends nominees to a GOP-led Senate have been fading.
“It is lessening because the frustration is growing. In other words, a modest amount of obstruction, an occasional request for a supermajority … once or twice a year might be one thing, but when it’s continuous on person after person after person, it’s just a very clear strategy to disable an administration re-elected by the American people,” Merkley said.
That may also be in part because of the reduced number of Democratic senators with experience serving with a GOP majority leader.
“If anyone thinks a future President Perry or a future President Palin and a future Majority Leader McConnell are not going to work together and if necessary change the rules as they proposed in 2005 to get nominations considered, I think you’re probably in an … imaginary world,” Merkley said. - Roll Call, 7/10/13
Not to mention Senate Republicans have greatly abused the filibuster since Obama took office:
Senate Republicans have also wielded the filibuster with unprecedented frequency, the number of votes taken to break a filibuster doubled after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took over as Republican leader:Please do contact your Senator and urge them to make filibuster reform a reality:
Similarly, Democrats under Bush never did anything like attempt to shut down a recently created agency by filibustering anyone nominated to lead it. They never tried to unilaterally repeal most of the law’s protections for unions by refusing to confirm anyone to a key labor agency. And they never threatened to filibuster a nominee that even Ted Cruz could raise no objection against in order to maintain partisan control over a powerful court. Indeed, since 1949, when the Senate rules created the modern process allowing a “cloture” vote to end a filibuster on a presidential nominee, a total of 36 executive branch nominees have received such a vote. Nearly half of them occurred under President Obama.
In other words, as recently as 2005, filibusters were a rare maneuver typically only used against nominees viewed as unusually offensive. Now they are used to shut down agencies, to neutralize laws and to shape the outcome of court decisions. It’s not surprising that many senators who supported the first kind of filibuster are no longer willing to accept the later. - Think Progress, 7/10/13