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Filibuster reform is very close to happening. You know it's close because of the bipartisan gang freak-out in trying to derail it. Unfortunately, senators flock to "bipartisan" proposals like flies to porta-potties. At least when it comes to things like the precious dysfunction of Senate procedure.
WASHINGTON -- A small bipartisan group of senators opposed to broad filibuster reform are closing in on a compromise package that would derail the building momentum toward a rules change in January. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has been the most vocal internal opponent of substantial Senate rules reform, and Democratic sources say he is now finalizing talks with the bipartisan group of senators.

On Tuesday, Levin told HuffPost that he was optimistic an agreement would soon be reached and that he was opposed to the "talking filibuster," the most far-reaching reform on the table. "There's a lot of conversations going on. There's a lot of things I'm involved in. There's a lot of things that I think are going to happen -- that I'm optimistic are going to happen. I don't want to be more specific," he said. "I'm optimistic it's going to happen. Hopefully we're going to be able to work out something."

If it's bipartisan, it won't work. That's because Republicans don't want it to work. The Senate has gone this route before. Obviously, if it had worked the first two times, we wouldn't be where we are now, would we. That's a lesson that a handful of Democrats, like Levin, seem completely incapable of learning. One of them, schockingly enough, seems to be Chuck Schumer.
Schumer said the right filibuster package could sail through the upper chamber. "I would say there are 90 members of this chamber, a significant majority of both parties, which would like to see something change and are fed up with how the Senate works," he said. "It's a bipartisan yearning to fix it. Whether we can come to an agreement or not between the parties, we'll see."
There is no yearning on the part of Republicans to fix this. If there was, well then there wouldn't be any fixing needed, would there. Because those Republicans yearning to make the Senate function would have been doing that instead of helping the rest of the Republicans obstruct. Given that three of the Republican senators who might have been interested in helping out in the cause of bipartisanship (Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe and Scott Brown) are gone, this is one more exercise in bipartisan futility.

We need real reform, not what a Senate Republican leadership aide calls "another ineffectual ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ or some watered-down cosmetic changes that won’t make the Senate more functional."

Tell your senator to vote to make the filibuster a real, talking filibuster that requires affirmative votes to continue.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  no, it isn't, (18+ / 0-)

    because there are no Gentlemen Republicans at present in either the Senate or the House.

    will sign and pass on.

    "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

    by kj in missouri on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 12:04:24 PM PST

  •  I'm pretty sure (7+ / 0-)

    that there is no yearning from Reid to fix this either. From a Dem majority leader's point of view a majority but with a filibuster in place is a nirvana. All the perks and non of the responsibility and no concerns about keeping their donors and voters, who's interests are often diametrically opposed, happy

  •  The Senate is broken, and Levin's remedy (13+ / 0-)

    is to pour more cologne on the wound.

    "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

    by Mogolori on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 12:12:00 PM PST

  •  Always a few bi-partisan Democrats (7+ / 0-)

    rushing to take the bait. You'd think they'd learn, after getting gaffed so many times.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 12:12:41 PM PST

  •  I'm sure there's a yearning in Republicans... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for a bipartisan impeachment.

  •  despite the senate's recent structural bias (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joan McCarter, Jim P, MPociask

    toward R's, in that it gives much more power to small, more conservative states, R's have rarely had a large majority in senate.

    look at the historical balance.  R's dominated the senate after the civil war until the depression.  D's have generally dominated the senate since 1933.

    D control: 5 times
    R control: 31 times

    biggest D majorities were under wilson.  56-39, 53-42, 51-44.

    R's had many bigger majorities.  under andrew johnson: 42-10, 42-11.  under grant: 61-11, 57-17,  54-19.  under TR: 61-29, 58-32.  under taft: 59-32.  under harding: 59-37.  under hoover: 56-39.


    D control: 31 times
    R control: 10 times

    biggest D majorities were under FDR 75-17, 69-23, 69-25, 66-28.  under truman: 57-38.  throughout throughout JFK's and LBJ's terms, D's had 60+ in senate, peaking at 68-32 from 1965-1967.  from 1959-1981, D caucus in senate was at least 55 (harry byrd was I, and conservative, but caucused with D's from 1971-1983).

    obviously, dixiecrats were conservatives who often voted with R's, but were nevertheless useful on many votes and for legislative control.


    R's have only had 55 senators 3 times (1997-1999, 1999-2001, 2005-2007) and have not had more than 55 senators since the early part of the great depression (only 96 senators then).

    by contrast, D's have had 55 senators 23 times (24 if counting harry byrd from 1971-1973), and more than 55 senators 20 times.


    if we start at 1980, D's control senate 10 times, and R's 8 times.  D's had 55 seats 7 times, and R's had 55 seats 3 times (1997-2001 and 2005-2007).


    R's have been in minority more, so it seems that filibuster is structurally more advantageous for them.

    and then there is the broader issue of a functioning government.  R's are validated by malfunctioning government.

    •  This analysis naively assumes that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      numerical control = actual control.  

      The Republicans have had a lock on actual control of the Senate since 1995, if not before.  Even when Democrats technically have the majority, Republicans have still controlled the agenda.

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:04:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dems will lose elections without filibuster reform (11+ / 0-)

    My Junior Senator, Jeff Merkley, is in favor of filibuster reform, and is up for reelection in 2014.

    He gets it.

    Republicans use the filibuster to stop all actions to benefit the general population, then blame the democrats for inaction. Because of the main stream media's abdication of their role in society and the lack of informed voters, they have some success with that tactic.

    I think everyone with a democratic senator needs to push that point to them, without real reform they are likely to lose their job to a person who is lying about them and laughing at them.

    The talking filibuster is the first step. Total elimination of the filibuster is my goal. I'm willing to bet that over the next 50 years more senators are elected who agree with me than with the right wing wackos.

  •  A Filibuster means to talk a bill to death (6+ / 0-)

    Not simply voice an objection, then go have lunch.  If McConnell wants to filibuster, let him stand in the Senate and talk and talk and talk and talk.  Pretty soon, everyone will realize just how stupid and petty he actually is.

    •  Usually there is a linkage that allows for (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, eztempo, glorificus

      a gaggle of Senators to talk a bill to death by taking turns and letting everyone else get weary of listening to their twaddle.

      No one wants to give it up because of "down the road when we are the minority what do we do?"  And after looking at Roy Blunt and Yertle the Turtle mcConnell, I wonder about that myself.

      But some sort of control is needed.  This obstructionism defies the public and the Senate's own intent.  Blockading by filibuster should be plainly forbidden and require only 51 votes to quash.  But one pols righteous concern is another pols wilful what to do with the hoary old pols eh?

      President Obama has won, the Senate is in Democratic hands, and America now has to recover from the bitter divide that only the Republicans wanted. Hope for today, tomorrow and the future! Let's get to it!

      by boilerman10 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:06:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Senate: A festering tumor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, mightymouse

    From another diary (yes, mine) :

    The Senate was a foul compromise from the very beginning. Now it is rotten to the core; a huge, festering tumor weighing our democracy down; making it all but impossible to address the severe problems confronting this nation that need to be solved. If the will of the majorities were enacted in national policies — as would happen in a truer democracy — we could make real progress toward solving some of our big problems.

    What lesson does the filibuster give to our children and to others around the world yearning for democracy? It sends the message that it is acceptable (even right and just, if you listen to them) for minority elites to thwart the majority; that being in the majority does not mean that you deserve to prevail; that there is something else that determines who wins. It is a profoundly subversive and anti-democratic message, and it's a dangerous message. Extremists of all stripes take heart from the message that it's acceptable to thwart the majority and to impose extreme views on it.

  •  Can't have filibuster reform NOW! (4+ / 0-)

    Why the senate might, you know, pass a gun law or something.

    And that would cause all the gun owners NOT to vote for us in 2016.

    And besides, aren't we glad we didn't elect Rmoney?  He woulda been worse!


    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:51:52 PM PST

  •  Social Security, Fillibuster Reform, 250K.. (3+ / 0-)

    IS there anything Democrats won't cave on when Republicans ask?

  •  I'll fix it for you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, sidnora
    Unfortunately, DEMOCRATIC senators flock to "bipartisan" proposals like flies to porta-potties.

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:00:57 PM PST

  •  If it's "shocking" that Schumer is opposed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, chuckvw, mightymouse

    to filibuster reform, you've not been paying attention.

    Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

    by Big River Bandido on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:02:01 PM PST

  •  I wonder how my Senators will vote? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, where do you stand?

    Oh yeah, never mind....

    I'll email them anyway, I bet Orrin's been missing my missives.

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:02:07 PM PST

  •  Screw me once, shame on you; (0+ / 0-)

    screw me twice, shame on me.

    Fuck Big Brother...from now on, WE'RE watching.

    by franklyn on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:03:14 PM PST

  •  Stupid or lying. This is one thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, mightymouse

    with no gray areas, no in-betweens, these remarks by Dem Senators quoted.

    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:03:31 PM PST

  •  Wish I had a job where I could SAY I was going to (5+ / 0-)

    work, then not really go, yet still get paid. A "filibuster" consisting of a Post-it on an empty Senate desk saying "I filibuster" is a monstrous wrong on a democratic system.

    Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizzam!

    by fourthcornerman on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:07:43 PM PST

  •  I Have My Own Reform (4+ / 0-)

    I want our Senators to roll the rules into the bills they bring to the floor. That would mean that the wrapper for the bill would stipulate the rules under which it would be brought to the floor (by majority vote with no debate), the amount of time allocated to consider it, and that it would pass or fail on a majority vote when the debate time expired (as well as the total number of amendments that would be considered and how long debate on them could last).

    This is within the Constitutional requirements and it only requires a majority vote to consider. So, it crushes the filibuster in its tracks, and it can be unloaded at any time.

    Given that, whether they pass "filibuster reform" or the content of it is immaterial. It simply doesn't matter in the overall scheme of things.

    What matters is courage on the part of a majority of Senators. That's all. But they are all cowards, as near as I can tell.

  •  Is Levin talking to the Voices in his head? nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, mightymouse

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:18:12 PM PST

  •  The filibuster is a great friend of the 1% (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, mightymouse

    It keeps the banking, financial, corporate, military complex safe from undue senatorial interference.

    It provides cover to some dems whose main interest is protecting the above. It's about never having to say your sorry. This is no truer than for Levin and Shumer.

    The filibuster allows business to continue as usual and grownup dems to fulsomely declare their regret.

    Often called kabuki or the Village two step...

    Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

    by chuckvw on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:26:08 PM PST

  •  Amen! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Only a fool gets fooled more than once.

    Once again, Charlie (Levin) Brown will try to kick the football, and once again Lucy (McConnell) will pull it away.

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:38:41 PM PST

  •  There they go again (4+ / 0-)

    From the article:

    “I think this is yet another sign of the bipartisan concern with using the nuclear option to forever revoke the ability of the minority to participate in the legislative process,” a Senate Republican leadership aide told TPM.

    Every single Senator has a right to participate in the legislative process.  No Senator is bound to get rid of their individual identity as a duly elected representative of an entire state, and instead become just another D or R.  If that Senator decides to forgo his individual decision making ability, and instead trust in a team of partisans to make decisions for him, and that team does not command a majority of the Senate, TOO DAMN BAD.  

  •  I emailed my senators (0+ / 0-)

    but it's not going to do any good. Kyl is retiring, Flake is a wingnut, and while filibuster reform might be good news for John McCain, I doubt that he'd vote for it.

  •  Waffler DiFi of CA may want her Assault Gun Ban... (6+ / 0-)

    A special letter or email to Senator Diane Feinstein, who has "reservations" about reforming the filibuster, would be a good idea for Californians out there, as Sen. Barbara Boxer alluded to in her interview with Rachel Maddow this evening.

    See, DiFi is getting loads of face time on the networks -- which she loves -- because she's resurrected her signature assault rifle ban bill as an answer to the carnage on our streets and in our schools.  It's a fine tune of legislation she got passed by a bare majority of Senators in 1994 that sunsetted into oblivion under Bush/Cheney.

    However, as Senator Boxer carefully pointed out a little while ago, that original assault weapons ban squeaked by with a bare 51 vote majority -- and with no filibuster.  It's unlikely Feinstein's bill new bill will not attract at least one wingnut Rethug's objection, and about zero chance that it won't have a filibuster brought against it.  

    In other words, it should be pointed out to Senator Feinstein that if she wants to go into history as the only Senator to get landmark gun regulation legislation through Congress twice, she damn well better vote for meaningful filibuster reform.

    •  Here's a "copy & paste" draft (0+ / 0-)

      Highlight and copy the following, "paste" it in to DiFi's form letter box, and then change and rephrase as you wish.  It's kind of a "call out" to DiFi to look over her shoulder to her (much more progressive, much more activist) junior Senator for leadership:

      Dear Senator Feinstein:

      I know you have "reservations" about reforming the filibuster, so I think it would be a good idea for you to pay attention to Sen. Barbara Boxer, who alluded to your rather timorous position on the FILIBUSTER, in her interview with Rachel Maddow this evening.

      See, I know you are is getting loads of face time on the networks -- which is good for you, and "good on you" for that -- because you've resurrected your signature assault rifle ban bill as an answer to the carnage on our streets and in our schools.  It's a fine-tune of legislation you got passed by a bare majority of Senators in 1994 that sun-setted into oblivion under Bush/Cheney, unfortunately.

      However, as Senator Boxer carefully pointed out a little while ago, that original assault weapons ban squeaked by with a bare 51 vote majority -- AND with NO FILIBUSTER.  

      It's unlikely your new bill will not attract at least one wingnut Republican's objection, and about zero chance that it won't have a filibuster brought against it.  

      In other words, it should be pointed out that if you want to go into history as the only Senator to get landmark gun regulation legislation through Congress twice, YOU DAMN WELL BETTER VOTE FOR MEANINGFUL FILIBUSTER REFORM!


  •  I've already done exactly that with DiFi. (0+ / 0-)

    Are Schumar & Levin susceptible to this approach as well?

    Warren is neither a Clintonesque triangulator nor an Obamaesque conciliator. She is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition, and her candidacy is a test of whether that approach can still appeal to voters.-J. Toobin "New Yorker"

    by chuck utzman on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 08:03:54 PM PST

  •  Eartning What You Get? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has been the most vocal internal opponent of substantial Senate rules reform...."

    Let's say that Levin has many compadres in this caper.  Let's also say that they fight Harry Reid tooth and nail to prevent reform of the filibuster and other reforms.  Will they be punished for their rebellion?  Or will they be treated as Joe Lieberman was -- coddled and handled with kid gloves?

    One reason I have not had any use for Reid is that he did absolutely nothing about Joe Lieberman campaigning for John McCain, against his own party's candidate.  I was raised to believe that my actions had consequences -- that if I broke the rules, then I would be punished.  This did not happen with Lieberman.  Will it happen with Levin and his cohorts?  Only time will tell, but I am not optimistic.

    I will say that if I belong to a group and I follow all the rules but receive no benefits from doing so, and if I see the favored ones in the group violating the rules and reaping benefits from doing so, I will not be a happy camper.  I also will not likely remain a loyal member of the group.  Just as MY actions have consequences, so also do the GROUP'S actions have consequences.

  •  Filibuster reform (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, Patango, cybersaur

    If they can get 'bipartisan' support from '90 Senators', then you can rest assured that the public is about to get screwed. Senate Repugnicans will NEVER agree with anything that may harm their minority status. And Levin & Schumer KNOW IT. This Senate, with its (old white guys) "gentlemen's agreements" is a JOKE.  Screw Levin & Schumer, Democrats or not. They are part of the problem.

  •  So Carl Levin (0+ / 0-)

    the asshole who pushed though NDAA with double speak duplicity and was a total weasel regarding the most basic of human rights globally, is now mouthing off about the joys and necessity of the bogus misuse of the filibuster.  How great it is to promote the intolerable status quo.

    It's used to thwart any progress or even debate and legislation that gets proposed by our so called  legislative body that debates and legislates our laws and policy.  It's how they, both parties, kill anything that threatens their insane and twisted grasp on our democratic laws and governance.

    Surprise surprise a well known weasel speaks out to maintain this method of stopping all decent legislation or opposition that should be on the floor.. Schumer is a Democratic WS hack of the worst order and of course he wants to keep the filibuster at hand to stop any decent legislation that reigns in the free market disaster capitalists that own our party and now the world as we find it.

    Too bad the executive branch also Democratic comes down in every instance with these fake Democrat's and their respected colleagues across the aisle. The ones  who wouldn't support a democratic principle or law if it bit them. They know how to avoid any bites that are not lethal.

    Unfortunately my party the Dems. always come down and actually promote anything that allows them cover to promote the fierce urgency of what ever they cook up to screw we the people and our sacred documents. Those documents and principles that while flawed proclaim and enshrine justice for all and those pesky inalienable rights that now mean nothing according to the by-partisan tools we are entitled to ratify as the best of two evils.

    These pols then make grand bargain with each other while subverting the process that was designed to apply checks and balance along with the rule of law not men. We have no way open to promote any common good or law just negotiations from the hell that both sides promote as the inevitable 'way forward'. What a dream what a vision what a fucking nightmare of the future and the sustainability of our home the earth.

    All hail the great NWO that makes no sense to people who have to live under this by-partisan  destructive anti-democratic bs that says deal with it you have no choice. Yes we do withdraw consent as people have done trough out history when they are confronted with these same assholes who have nothing to offer but destruction of human progress and the demise of human progress and our hard won rights.          

  •  I talked to Schumer about this a week ago... (0+ / 0-)

    ...and I think you're reading a lot more into his comments than deserve to be.

  •  The ironic part of this is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the next time republicans win a majority in the Senate they will immediately eliminate the filibuster and ram through everything they possibly can.  And if possible change the rules back when they lose control again.  Every time they've controlled the House or Senate since the 80's they've escalated the majority's authority from whatever the status quo is.

    Take a look at Michigan if you want to see how they'll roll in the future if they get a chance.  These people have no shame and why should they? They're never punished for it.

  •  Schumer. Yet another stellar Dem negotiator. Who (0+ / 0-)

    gets played like a fiddle and has no clue it's even happening.  No wonder Schumer and Obama are so tight.

  •  Joan, it was NOT "a Senate Republican leadership (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    aide" who referred to "another ineffectual ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ or some watered-down cosmetic changes that won’t make the Senate more functional."

    From your link:

    It’s not clear what concession Democrats are willing to make to get a deal, and the magnitude of those concessions would depend on whether or not Reid truly has 51 votes to change the rules on his own. But a separate Senate Democratic aide, whose boss is committed to substantially weakening the filibuster, insists that one way or another Democrats must not waver on the substance.

    “We cannot allow this opportunity for real reform to be sidetracked by another ineffectual ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ or some watered-down cosmetic changes that won’t make the Senate more functional,” the aide said. “Republicans need to understand that we need to change the Senate, and that means changing the rules. If Republicans choose not to come to the table to talk real reform, the Constitutional option is available.”

    emphasis mine.
  •  signed, tip, recommended & donated (0+ / 0-)

    Gees this place is expensive to be a member !


  •  Schumer is my senator, (0+ / 0-)

    and I keep his number on my cell phone for times just like this.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 03:47:07 AM PST

  •  I would actually be surprised if (0+ / 0-)

    there weren't some or even many Republicans on board with filibuster reform, for the simple fact that they probably think they will regain Senate control in 2014, and this would enable them to hoist minority Dems on their own petard retroactively.

    "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

    by bryduck on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:22:25 AM PST

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