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One can only take a wait-and-see attitude about polling data for so long. Barring a major turnabout, it now seems quite likely that President Obama will be re-elected by about as much of a win in the popular vote as in 2008, and that the Senate will remain in Democratic hands. And in the best of all possible worlds, Nancy Pelosi will become Speaker of the House again.

What is likely to happen in this best of all possible worlds ?

Believe it or not, it all depends on Harry Reid, not President Obama. Yes, Sharron Angle's nemesis could well be deciding the course of the nation, and if so it's fate will likely be decided in the first day or two the Senate convenes in January, 2013.

In May, Harry Reid apologized for killing off a 2010 filibuster reform bill, admitting that the legislative procedure has been "abused, abused, and abused." Reid has now gone a step farther: the Senate Majority Leader is now openly promising to pass filibuster reform in the beginning of the next Congress if Democrats manage to hold onto a simple majority in the Senate and if Obama is reelected.
My guess is that Reid, and Reid pretty much alone, is going to decide what, if any, changes to the cloture and filibuster rules the Senate now has will be made. If it will still take 60 (or 55, or maybe even 52) votes in the Senate to enable legislation to be passed, then all of us should by now understand that nothing will get done; there is absolutely no reason to believe that Republicans acting as a solid mass to block almost all legislation and nominee confirmations will not continue through 2016.

If, instead, Reid has the guts to undo the power of the cloture (the requirement that a bill needs 60 votes to be considered), something I currently believe about as much as I believe in the presence of unicorns on Mars, but we shall see, then, along with a Democratic House, a whole world of legislative possibilities opens up:

  • DREAM Act
  • ENDA
  • Immigration Reform
  • A Public Option for Obamacare, and important tweaks to the health care law as neeeded
  • Millionares' tax rates
  • Jobs, Infrastructure and Renewable Energy legislation
  • The possible appointment of one or more progressive Supreme Court Justices resulting in a moderate to liberal leaning court
  • The confirmation of a replacement for Eddie DeMarco, the man single-handedly stopping principal reduction policies from being implemented that would benefit millions of Americans and help the economy
  • a National Homeowner's Bill of Rights
  • new Right To Vote legislation
  • Card check
  • Equal pay for equal work
I'm sure Kossacks can add many pieces of legislation to this list. Progressives aren't likely even in this scenario to get much of what they would like to see: e.g., an immediate end to war in Afghanistan, significant reductions in defense spending long-term, Medicare for All, the death of the NDAA and the elimination of the Patriot Act, banksters in jail.

But I suspect the world will look a whole lot different at the end of 2016 if Democratic majorities can pass legislation in the next four years instead of wailing about Republican obstructionism and watching votes 'fail' with the majority in favor.

So what will in be, Harry Reid? Will you take your promise to mean the implementation of majority rule in the Senate, or will you once again wimp out, agreeing to some unenforceable "understanding" with the minority which they will then break with impunity, as happened in 2010?

On November 7th, let's hope that the world is going to want to know.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 08:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Policy Zone, Single Payer: The Fight for Medicare for All, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Community Manifesto Initiative, and The Federation.

Poll

Majority rule in the Senate?

54%40 votes
2%2 votes
23%17 votes
19%14 votes

| 73 votes | Vote | Results

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