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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) is photographed as he talks to reporters about the senate's vote on debt ceiling legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, August 2, 2011. Congress buried the specter of a debt default by finally pass
Sen. Harry Reid
The New York Times editorial board makes the case for ending the filibuster: "The best way to end the Senate’s sorry history of inaction is to end the silent filibuster, forcing lawmakers to explain themselves if they want to block legislation supported by the majority."

There's momentum for the talking filibuster and for real reform coming from the new Senate. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is the latest cosigner on the strong reform package being forwarded by Sens. Jeff Merkely, Tom Udall, and Tom Harkin. She's joined by a senior colleague, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who tweeted this morning that she's "for the strongest filibuster reform out there" and adds, "If you want to filibuster in the Senate, you should be on floor making your case. Show up or shut up." A majority of the Democratic caucus wants real change.

But Harry Reid is wavering, still trying to work out a watered down approach with Mitch McConnell in a process that could drag on for a week or even two. This report from The Hill also suggests that he is backing away from the idea of using the constitutional option, the 51 majority vote to pass reform, because "does not want to start the new Congress on a sourly partisan note and would prefer to negotiate a bipartisan alternative."

Just a reminder to Sen. Reid: Here's what you said just a month ago about bipartisan agreements:

Sen. Reid in December: “We’re going to change the rules. We cannot continue in this way. So I hope we can get something Republicans will work with us on. But it won’t be a handshake. [...] We tried that last time; it didn’t work.”
Reid doesn't have a final package yet, and he is still talking about trying to create a rule that will flip the burden of a filibuster onto the minority: Instead of requiring 60 votes to overcome it, it would force the minority to have 41 votes, on the floor, to continue it. That's a good reform, but adding the talking filibuster would make it better.

About 175,000 of you have taken action to encourage your senators and Harry Reid to make filibuster reform work. Thank you for that, for acting on this critical issue. We're not done yet, though, not as long as Reid is still talking to his caucus and talking to Republicans. Send a message to him, either directly or through your Democratic Senator, to make the Senate work again.

Please send an email to your Democratic senator/s urging them to pass real filibuster reform including the talking filibuster and/or flipping the burden.

 If you don't have a Democratic senator, call Reid's office at 202-224-3542, and tell him to include the talking filibuster and/or flipping the burden of the filibuster.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:50 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Damn you Reid. "Bipartisan" equals "screw (23+ / 0-)

    America" and you have to be an imbecile at this point to not know that!

    Please, everyone, call Reid and your Senators and tell him we need the talking filibuster. The alternative, any watering-down, is just plain dereliction of duty.

    Also tell them bipartisanshit with people intent on destroying the nation is unacceptable, as much so as giving in to terrorists.


    Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

    by Jim P on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:57:28 AM PST

    •  Bipartisanship is a necessity with a GOP House... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, slinkerwink, commonmass

      What is gained by having party line Dem legislation coming out of the Senate and party line GOP legislation coming out of the House?  They're going to have to meet in the middle anyways.  And Dems will never provide the far left legislation to counter the GOP's far right House legislation because we'd worry about exposing Landrieu, Pryor, Baucus, Begich, Hagan and Johnson to being easy pickings.  So we'd offer up essentially what legislation we'd get with the 60 votes and thus 5 GOP votes.  

      Only area where Reid and the Dems should focus on is on the Presidential nominations for his admin and judiciary.  And let's not forget the last two SCOTUS nominees blocked were both from Republican Presidents.  

      So this filibuster fight is more about the Labor Secretary and EPA Chair - because those are the lower profile cabinet spots where the GOP will weild their filibuster power.  Hagel, Brennan, Kerry, Lew will all get confirmed without much of a hitch.

      "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

      by Jacoby Jonze on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:14:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hijacking of what should be a majoritarian (13+ / 0-)

        process is not bipartisanship. A more functional and representative Senate helps, regardless of what's going on in the House of Representatives.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:20:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Relax! Reid is Now Threatening The Nuclear Option (0+ / 0-)

          The Atlantic Wire is now reporting that the GOP has 36 hours to agree to filibuster reform. . . or else:

          Harry Reid Threatens Senate GOP with Fabled 'Nuclear Option' to Kill Filibuster

          J.K. Trotter 1,942 Views 4:56 PM ET

          In a turnaround, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening Senate Republicans with an obscure (and unprecedented) method of enacting filibuster reform. In a statement to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, the Nevada Democrat said that if he does not secure enough Republican votes within the next 36 hours, he will trigger what is known as the "nuclear option" (alternatively, the "constitutional option"), which would override the established precedent of requiring a supermajority of Senators to change the rules of filibuster, which is the especially annoying tactic used by both sides to delay (and often kill) undesirable legislation. The "nuclear option" requires 51 votes instead of 67, and Reid said Tuesday that he has the votes.

          This means two things. One, that Reid is making good on his word from November that he would seek, in whatever way possible, to reform the filibuster maneuver. And two, that his prior stance on the filibuster is no impediment to him seeking reform now. In several statements collected by BuzzFeed in November, Reid inveighed heavily against the "nuclear option" when it was being considered by Senate Republicans in 2005, calling it "un-American." What changed? As far back as May 2012, Reid signaled that, between then and the middle of President Bush's tenure, the filibuster rule had been significantly "abused" and needed to be reformed:

          The MOST IMPORTANT REFORM would be flipping the requirement that the majority present 60 votes to cut off debate rather than the minority presenting 40 votes to forestall a vote!

          That is vastly MORE important than the "talking filibuster" which is a basically useless "reform" since Republicans can easily talk forever, while deferring to each other (exactly how Richard Russell and the Dixiecrats blocked civil rights legislation in the 1960s).

          •  Don't relax (0+ / 0-)

            Not 'til it's over

            Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

            by Simplify on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:08:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I just mean stop cursing Harry Reid. (0+ / 0-)

              At least until it becomes apparent that he's NOT going to enact any meaningful filibuster reform. Because, as of right now he's giving the GOP 36 hours to agree before he forces the reform through with 51 votes.

              And what chance do you think that 5 GOP senators will agree? Not too hot. They would be afraid of enraging their own base if they agreed to anything Reid proposed.

              That in itself is proof enough that the Senate cannot function.

      •  Nonsense. (19+ / 0-)

        First off, the filibuster is about the ability to present Bills, as much as it is about passing them or getting Laws with the House done.

        It's about setting the topics of discussion which are presented to the American people.

        The GOP has made no secret that their purpose is to destroy government, and the Democratic Party along with it.

        And they are unified and inflexible on that goal. From their own mouths, and their own actions you know that. We all know that..

        It's absolute LUNACY, let me shout again, LUNACY to try and reach "bipartisan" agreements with a guy who wants nothing other than to slit your throat. The compromise they might accept would be to slit your wrists.

        We're not dealing with a political party, we're dealing with a cult, much along the lines of the Bolshiviks. Ask the Mensheviks how working compromise with them worked out.

        Remember, we are not inside the Beltway.

        We are not inside the Beltway.

        Ordinary citizens like you and me are not inside in the Beltway.

        There's no advantage to us pretending we're part of their little world; being all sophisticated and whatnot, finding excuses for their whacky and self-serving assumptions and calling that "pragmatism."

        All that we're responsible for is protecting our own interests. And our interests are very very far from DC's interests.

        We start with restoring the actual purpose of legislative bodies, one Chamber at a time as we have it now, and fuck whether Reid can look forward to having a pleasant atmosphere when he goes to work. Getting warm handshakes and smiles from Mitch and the other enemies of government, the people, and the Democratic Party.


        Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

        by Jim P on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:31:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  With respect, (0+ / 0-)

          it is lunacy to hope to achieve a sufficient majority to make change before any action is taken, and to not make law while it isn't.

          In fact, the Revolution only happened because people literally despising one another came together for common cause.  The Constitution only happened because people who KNEW they had an unreconcilable difference that would lead to bloodshed came together for common cause.

          It isn't lunacy to try to reach compromise with others you despise and fundamentally oppose -- it is the first principle of legislation.  There are always logs to roll.  Deal with the reality that you may not have the votes you need to roll over the opposition and try to find a middle ground better than the status quo.

          The perfect is the enemy of the good.

          •  And if the opponent does not accept (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim P, Eric Nelson, Crider
            first principle of legislation
            but rather, has as its goal, the general belittling of the institution and government in the public conscience, what do you suggest?

            There is hypergame design going on here; this is not a simple game.

            United We Understand — e MMT unum

            by dorkenergy on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:09:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  This isn't about ordinary partisan politics. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mzinformed

            This is about destroying government and rolling back every single piece of rights-protection, safety-net protection, we have. If not all at once, then by degrees.

            You really have to understand that. We are not talking about Javitts/Goldwater Republicans, or even Reagan-era Republicans. We are not dealing with a loyal opposition. We are dealing with a dedicated and relentless enemy.

            We are talking about people who look to Lenin and Hitler as model-providers for how to undermine democracy.

            This is not a joke, or hyperbole. This is their own words. This is their actions. There is no compromise possible with them that will not work in their favor.

            Beyond all that: give me a good reason one of our Chambers should be crippled in its duties. Short-sighted and petty advantages? We'll let the presentation of Bills be crippled for a few years so that we can get some minor appointments made? Really, that's not pragmatism. That's political suicide.

            Oh, and btw:
            The inadequate is the enemy of the necessary.


            Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

            by Jim P on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:28:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Pryor's is history (0+ / 0-)

        He is toast, I would not be surprised if he did not even run.   61% romney 37% obama.  The house and senate in AR is now all repubs, all house members are repubs

      •  So because we have one road block in the House (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson, Simplify, Jim P

        we should make things even more difficult by having a second roadblock in the Senate? Because of secret holds and silent filibusters the Senate often fails to pass legislation that has overwhelming support in both Houses. It is incorrect to assume any legislation that is filibustered can not be passed the the GOP controlled House. Filibusters in the Senate are often used purely for personally negotiations to get some unrelated thing for an individual Senator. The Senator can even actual favor the legislation that they put a hold on!

    •  I've called my Senators (Boxer and Feinstein) (10+ / 0-)

      and I'm currently on hold with Harry Reid's Washington office. I see that as a good sign. We should absolutely be flooding ALL of his offices with demands for real reform, to include the talking filibuster.
         Here's his contact info:
       Carson City
      600 East William Street, #304
      Carson City, NV 89701
      Phone: 775-882-7343 / Fax: 775-883-1980

      Las Vegas
      Lloyd D. George Building
      333 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Suite 8016
      Las Vegas, NV 89101
      Phone: 702-388-5020 / Fax: 702-388-5030

      Reno
      Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse and Federal Building
      400 South Virginia Street, Suite 902
      Reno, NV 89501
      Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757

      Rural Nevada
      If you live in Esmeralda, Lincoln, or Nye Counties:
      Phone: 702-388-5020 / Fax: 702-388-5030
      If you live in Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey or White Pine County:
      Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757

      Washington
      522 Hart Senate Office Building
      Washington, DC 20510
      Phone: 202-224-3542 / Fax: 202-224-7327
      Toll Free for Nevadans: 1-866-SEN-REID (736-7343) - Restricted to calls originating from area codes 775 and 702

      Reid Newsroom
      Sen. Reid’s Nevada Press Office 202-224-9521 (for inquiries from Nevada media)
      Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center 202-224-2939

        Media folks could try the bottom numbers!

       

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:40:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  huh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P

      It's amazing the things Clinton just couldn't get passed like a balanced budget and.....oh wait.

    •  Silly, Silly, Wabbits (0+ / 0-)

      Harry's not going to actually reform the filibuster. It protects his fellow Democrats from having to take those mean old, "Up or Down votes", against the Wall Street lobbyists, who line their pockets. Doing the "Progressive talk" is easy, voting it is not.

  •  Really doesn't matter with GOP controlled House (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, a2nite, elwior

    (Repost from another diary on this same topic)

    Not to mention Dems much likelier lose the Senate with filibuster reform because it makes Landrieu, Pryor, Baucus, Johnson, Begich, Hagan all have to pull a Blanche Lincoln and piss off both sides and get a Quixotic primary challenge that accomplishes nothing other than guarantee their loss.

    If there was reforms, it would make these senators the decision makers and they'd have to please two masters - Dem voters and enough moderates/centrists back home who would want to see an independent streak out of them and that is impossible to do.  

    So no reform means they get the cover of 5 GOP Senator votes on any measure, so they can't possibly be attacked/smeared as signing off on a far left agenda if five Republicans have also signed off to get cloture.  

    And what would be the point to sacrifice the senate majority in 2014 when the GOP holds the House anyways.  It's not like the GOP Senate obstruction is the only thing standing int he way of progressive legislation like they were in 2008-2010.

    Pres Obama and his agenda are much better off holding the Sen majority in 2014, and not having to face a GOP Sen and GOP House.  

    And before anybody argues that McConnell will change the rules the first chance he gets in 2014 realize that just like 2014 is a tough year for Dems, 2016 will be a great year for Dems with Johnson in Wisconsin, Toomey in PA, Kirk in Illinois, Ayotte in NH, Portman in Ohio, Rubio in Florida, Burr in NC, McCain in Az all up in a Presidential year.  So McConnell changing the rules in 2014 sets up the Dems then living by those rules or making their own in 2016.  

    Not to mention McConnell would need 51 votes (50 wouldn't be enough as Biden is tie breaker), so assume the Dems lose 6 seats in 2014 (Landrieu, Pryor, Johnson, Baucus, Begich and Hagan), so now we're at 51-49 - but McConnell loses one vote in his caucus for the changes and they don't happen.  And the GOP's 2016 class will want the cover just like our at-risk Dems want now.  Would Kirk vote to change the rules, and then vote for a far right agenda knowing that he'll get destroyed in his 2016 re-election bid if he did?  Any and every GOP Senator on a 51-49 split would own every one of their Senate votes explicitly as they could have been the difference maker in blocking it and how would each and every vote play back in their blue/purple states in a coming Presidential election year?  And any legislation that they personally blocked would probably gin up a primary challenge not unlike the one Lincoln faced in Arkansas.  

    Pres Obama's last two years would be hell if the GOP got the Senate in 2014 and held the House.  He'd be essentially fighting them all by himself.  He'd have to veto legislation they pass up to him and then shut down government rather than pass say Obamacare repeal or a budget with ugly cuts to education funding.  Holding the Senate in 2014 leaves a firewall in place - we might not get all of what we want now, but with a GOP House that was never going to happen anyways.  And with the President in Office we still get a center left agenda, whereas if we lose the Senate in 2014 we'd get a center right agenda.

    "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

    by Jacoby Jonze on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:08:37 AM PST

    •  The Republicans could lose the House in 2014, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, The Finite Times, betelgeux

      especially the way they are going now, with plummeting tea party popularity and losses even in heavily gerrymandered districts. I don't see the Democrats losing the Senate and historically I don't think kowtowing to ConservaDems has accomplished much if anything.

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:28:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reid and Dems could change Sen rules in 2014 (0+ / 0-)

        if Dems hold Senate and win back House.  It's not now or never, it's now or two years from now.  

        "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

        by Jacoby Jonze on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:38:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dems need to use their momentum now to make (3+ / 0-)

          a change, or they will have the same kind of obstruction they've had for the last four years. We keep hearing the Democrats say they'll change the filibuster later, but they never did. I really think if they don't make a big change now, they never will. Nothing they do will make the Republicans be reasonable. They could play nice with them the next two years and then if the Republicans were to win--which they won't--but if they did, the Republicans might make good on their old threats to do exactly the same thing and eliminate the filibuster when the Democrats are in the minority. In other words, Democrats are not buying insurance of future fair play by being nice to Republicans now. In the Republican mind, Democrats are just being dumb and weak, and if given the chance, they would not show Democrats any mercy.

          Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

          by tekno2600 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:52:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Did you listen to Obama's Inaugural Address? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          betelgeux

          He's calling for action now - not in a couple years.
          In a couple years he'll be a lame duck.

    •  There's always the Conference Committee (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, commonmass, OldGrandet, Crider

      There are many ways to get legislation passed with the radical right GOP in charge of the House.

      But it can't be done unless Dems are able to exercise the power of the majority in the Senate.

      Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:38:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Matters greatly to public opinion and 2014. (8+ / 0-)

      If the WH and Dem Senate do not appear to be pursuing a populist agenda they will do poorly in 2014, just like 2010. They will be perceived as giving up on that agenda before even starting if they do not get serious filibuster reform now. They need to get the reform AND legislate aggressively on a people's agenda. Whether they are able to prevail or not, they can win 2014 if they do everything within their power to serve the people.

      Right or wrong, that's how it will be.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:40:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North
      Not to mention Dems much likelier lose the Senate with filibuster reform because it makes Landrieu, Pryor, Baucus, Johnson, Begich, Hagan all have to pull a Blanche Lincoln and piss off both sides and get a Quixotic primary challenge that accomplishes nothing other than guarantee their loss.
      Seems like pretzel logic to me.
      First, I have yet to see any of those Senators make the daring foray into progressive legislation.
      Second, primary challenges are not doomed ventures. Are you seriously going to blame Blanche Lincoln's loss to a viable primary candidate? Whoa daddy - that's not even close to the truth.
      And to go even further out onto your fantasia limb you are willing to suggest, no predict, that the Democrats would lose the Senate because of filibuster reform. Geeze that doesn't even make sense.
    •  Getting Rid of Blanche Lincoln was a GOOD THing! (0+ / 0-)

      She was fanatically opposed to labor rights and was a GOP senator in all but name! She actually ran in 2010 as "independent of the Democratic party!"

      Well, why would any Democrat vote for that garbage?

      The Republicans got rid of all their weak RINOS long ago, and we need to do the same thing to all the worthless DINOS!

      Primary them! Put the fear of god into the scum! That's the only way we will ever get Democrats who will stand up and fight for Democratic principles!

      You think the other Senators didn't NOTICE what happened to Blanche once she went against the Democratic base? Labor attacked and fatally weakened her and she's now GONE!

      It is useless to have worthless scum like Blance Lincoln in the Congress pissing inside the tent and providing the media with endless right wing talking points that only strengthen the enemy!

      Meanwhile every Republican Senator KNOWS not to cross Grover Norquist -- even if he's from the most liberal state! We need to impose some DISCIPLINE on the Democratic party so they will STOP IGNORING EVERYTHING WE WANT!

      And the only way to do that is to PUNISH those who oppose our interests. And if that sometimes means letting a Republican win, then fine! That's the price we have to pay to get the rest of our senators in line!

      The Republicans have already done this -- they expelled their mushy center and this forced all debate in America vastly to the right over the last 20 years!

      IT's about time we did the same and force it back to the left!

  •  I've never liked him much (8+ / 0-)

    From many years back, because of his retail amendment/riders exempting mining companies in Nevada from environmental and other review.

    Silent filibusters, and one senator putting a secret hold on things.  I'm not worried about the rules change, because Dems in the minority would never go so far as McConnell's Republicans have done.  As long as the option is there, so for a few egregious situations it can still be used?  That's good enough for me.

    After the last few years, he's not willing to go back to the talking filibuster?  Really???  He wants to trust McConnell?  That's downright!

    What do we make of the contrast between heroic teachers who stand up to a gunman and craven, feckless politicians who won’t stand up to the N.R.A.? -- Nicholas Kristof, NYT --

    by Land of Enchantment on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:09:46 AM PST

    •  I'm about 50/50 on Reid, but I sent a little $ (0+ / 0-)

      to his last campaign because Sharron Angle...

      “Social Security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or erasing or lowering the deficit.” -- Ronald Reagan, 1984 debate with Walter Mondale

      by RJDixon74135 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:02:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Requiring 41 votes for a filibuster isn't enough (8+ / 0-)

    It still amounts to requiring a 60 vote supermajority to pass anything that more than 40% chooses to obstruct. Lately, that has been almost everything. If they also had to sustain a talking filibuster, with reasonable time limits, that would make a difference (and make for some hilarious reality TV).

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:18:31 AM PST

    •  Yes, things like getting rid of the 30 hour post.. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tekno2600, TrueBlueDem, betelgeux, jdlas

      ..cloture "ripening" time period and other proposals are all good but if the 60 vote hurdle remains in place in the end, McConnell can and will obstruct.

      The supermajority has to go.

      Tom Harkins idea of 60 votes, wait 3 days, then 57 votes needed, 3 days then on third try 54 votes - then finallysimple majority is the rule.

      With no route to a simple majority the republicans can and will pull all the same crap they do now.

       

  •  Question (9+ / 0-)

    Yesterday I read somewhere that if they don't change the filibuster rules the Republicans can anonymously & indefinitely halt Supreme Court nominees - is this true? Because if it is I have no doubt they would use it as a tool, especially if the opportunity to appoint happens later in President Obama's term.

    I'm pretty tired of being told what I care about.

    by hulibow on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:18:58 AM PST

    •  To my knowledge, (8+ / 0-)

      your understanding is correct. However, as with everything else among our ruling class, there is a "Gentleman's Agreement" that Supreme Court nominees should not be "filibustered" in this fashion. Meaning that if/when the President gets to nominate a replacement Justice this term, he/she would get an "up or down vote" after actual debate and so forth. That "agreement" is good only until someone decides to break it.

      Keep in mind, though, that the "secret hold" is a pretty poorly kept secret within the august halls of the Senate, so if (for example) Tom Coburn did one of his "filibusters" on a Supreme Court nominee, the only folks who wouldn't know it was him would be, well, all of us.

      The other Senators would be pretty likely to have a clue and apply some "Gentleman's Pressure" to the good doctor behind the scenes (where, as we know, all real governing happens in an open republic).

      Still, a basic response to your question is "Yes," I believe.

      •  "Gentleman's Agreement" = No public oversight (10+ / 0-)

        It's a means of governing based on deals cut behind closed doors.

        Members of the Senate & House need to be held publicly accountable for their actions and votes.  Their constituents have a right to know where they stand on important bills, resolutions and on the issues in general.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:40:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  also no grassroots advocacy or accountability (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maryabein

          to their constituents.

          When real, consumer-based grassroots advocates come to members of Congress to promote legislative initiatives, they deserve to know where their legislators stand.  

          The agreement between voters and members of Congress has always been that the representative may or may not support what you're proposing (e.g. cancer research funding) but their constituents deserve to know how they vote on that issue.  These "agreements", "secret holds" and other behind  the scenes maneuvering allows senators to dodge responsibility and public accountability.

          They may not always agree with their constituents, but they have to say so publicly.

          Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:01:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your comprehensive answer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, Eric Nelson

        "Gentleman's Agreement"  - ha! That's all I've got.

        I'm pretty tired of being told what I care about.

        by hulibow on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:44:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Now, keep in mind (0+ / 0-)

          that this is what I think is the case. Undoubtedly, folks with actual political knowledge might have a better handle on the situation. I do seem to recall at some point in the past that a senator was "outed" as being the source of a secret hold, and that pretty much the whole Senate already knew.

      •  Secret hold and filibuster are different (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson

        Any Senator can put a hold on a nomination. Any Senator can threaten filibuster. But filibuster can eventually be overridden (by 2/3 majority) which Harry Reid has never seen fit to attempt. Whereas a "secret hold" is harder to beat until the person invoking this power is negotiated with.

  •  Also notice the timing of this now... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, hulibow

    Right after the inauguration where it was all about working together and happy feelings.  

    Also Reid and the Dems would either have to go all the way with 51 votes for total reshaping or not at all.   Because if they nibble around the edges they'll be leaving the GOP with enough power to obstruct and block and they'll be united and pissed off at the partisan changes to block everything because they can.  

    And Dems don't have near enough votes for a Extreme Senate Make-over Rules Edition(Move that fili-BUS!!).  

    "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

    by Jacoby Jonze on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:19:18 AM PST

  •  41 votes (7+ / 0-)

    Forcing the Republicans to whip 41 votes to sustain a filibuster is still a big deal, and probably too big a deal to get McConnell to agree to. I don't see how he's going to get even a watered-down reform through on regular Senate rules.

    It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness - Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Fish in Illinois on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:23:42 AM PST

  •  Make no mistake about this. If the Democrats do (7+ / 0-)

    not insist on and actually get a significant change in the way the filibuster works then that can only mean one thing --

    The top Democrats in the Seante along with the top Republicans in the Senate have sold out the country to their lords and masters in K Street.

    They should all be recalled within weeks of the capitualtion.

    And K Street ? --- Well they are in favor of automatic weapons and thousand round magazines.

    •  If they don't reform the filibuster (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Finite Times, betelgeux

      they are the Washington Generals to the Republicans' Harlem Globetrotters: in on it, and playing to lose.

      They would have to be stupid beyond stupid not to see that the filibuster is being abused and must be reformed or done away with.

    •  Wanna change the way it works? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, betelgeux

      Try making the party threatening filibuster to carry it out. If you never call your opponents bluff, but fold every time they go "all in" you're going to be out a lot of money at the end of the night, because you're inviting your opponent to go all in every hand. With Lily Ledbetter Harry Reid had pocket Aces and he still folded. That tells you all you need to know about the likelihood for "filibuster reform."

      •  I agree. We are never going to see reform and it (0+ / 0-)

        all because this is a make believe Kongress in a make believe Democracy.

        The K Street Fix is in and both parties are in on the Fix.

        But this should prove it even to the true believers and maybe then we can begin removing these lice from the system.

  •  Harry Reid is stupidly trying to create room (6+ / 0-)

    for future negotiations with Mitch McConnell on upcoming legislation. He's probably worried that by going with filibuster reform as it was originally meant to be, that it would basically create an ongoing warfare between the two parties in the Senate. That is a bit of naivete because that ongoing warfare has been going on for years now, and just because Mitch promises something to Reid for bending on the filibuster issue, doesn't mean that he'll stick to it down the road.

    •  Why assume stupidity? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher, Simplify, jdlas

      Reid's actions have been deliberate. He's the one who's allowed the "filibuster reform" meme to catch hold, because it absolves him from responsibility. This is the one man who can reform the filibuster with one wave of his hand: simply leave the legislation on the docket and force the minority to carry out their filibuster threat. He hasn't done that once. Not once since Dems took over the Senate. And since then we've had "record numbers of filibusters." Well of course? Who wouldn't threaten filibuster if you didn't know you were guaranteed to scuttle legislation by so doing?

      The Lily Ledbetter Act was the final straw for me. If he wasn't even willing to try to get conservatives on the record as opposed to Equal Pay, then he was never going to fight them on anything. And if a Dem leader isn't willing to fight the opposition, what exactly are we supposed to think of him?

  •  They will lose in 2014 if they don't fully (6+ / 0-)

    reform the filibuster and then vigorously pursue a populist agenda. Whether or not the Republicans are then able to thwart that agenda, Democrats will win. If they don't even give themselves a chance to win with reform they will lose. If they reform but then legislate from the middle or center-right, too many of the people who swept them into power, once again, will have other priorities than campaigning and/or voting for Democrats.

    Right or wrong, that's what will happen.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:37:33 AM PST

  •  I'm all for rules that protect the voice of the (7+ / 0-)

    minority party--Democrats have been there and probably will be again--but protecting the voice of the opposition and allowing it to literally take the government hostage are two different things.

    I called my senators, Susan Collins and Angus King. I urge you to call yours.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:43:28 AM PST

  •  Harry Reid "hath labored mightily and brought (5+ / 0-)

    forth a mouse."

    "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

    by TofG on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:44:18 AM PST

  •  Done. Senator Casey has mail.... eom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, betelgeux

    "This is a center-left country. Democrats can act that way and win. In fact, they must." -- Markos

    by cassandraX on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:48:10 AM PST

  •  Not holding breath (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think Reid is any friend to Obama quite frankly. Reid has been behind every decision to table legislation, as opposed to requiring filibuster threat to be carried out. All this filibuster reform malarkey has been a diversionary ploy to buy time. If Harry Reid wanted to reform the filibuster he'd simply be making the opposition carry out their threats. After the 4th or 5th time the whole world would know who the obstructionists were. This whole mess has been a collusion between conservatives and a critical number of Dems in positions of authority. Reid is one of those guys.

    As Atrios says "Happy to be wrong..."

  •  Way more than a majority of the Caucus Required (0+ / 0-)

    Even if they rely on the nuclear option, at least 50 votes will be required to do that.  28 is not 51.

    Also, there may be Senators who support reform, but don't support the constitutional option to obtain this reform.

    Straw votes are being taken as I write this.  I have no doubt a strong strong majority of the Dem 54 supports reform, I hope that a majority support using the nuclear option to do it, but 28 is not 51.

    So now we go to "party loyalty" and arm-twisting.  If Reid can't get to 51, he needs GOP Senators to effect any change.  Even so, its still way better to do it with a supermajority if that is possible.

    28 is not 51.

  •  I've been calling Sen Reid's number (0+ / 0-)

    and it sounds like his voice mailbox is full, and the option that takes you to a staffer is also  overloaded, hopefully.

  •  Flood Reid's offices with calls! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, betelgeux

     Tell him the talking filibuster MUST be in there.
       Tell him no deals with McConnell that make reform useless (as he is apt to do!)

    Contact info:
    Carson City
    600 East William Street, #304
    Carson City, NV 89701
    Phone: 775-882-7343 / Fax: 775-883-1980

    Las Vegas
    Lloyd D. George Building
    333 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Suite 8016
    Las Vegas, NV 89101
    Phone: 702-388-5020 / Fax: 702-388-5030

    Reno
    Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse and Federal Building
    400 South Virginia Street, Suite 902
    Reno, NV 89501
    Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757

    Rural Nevada
    If you live in Esmeralda, Lincoln, or Nye Counties:
    Phone: 702-388-5020 / Fax: 702-388-5030
    If you live in Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey or White Pine County:
    Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757

    Washington
    522 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
    Phone: 202-224-3542 / Fax: 202-224-7327
    Toll Free for Nevadans: 1-866-SEN-REID (736-7343) - Restricted to calls originating from area codes 775 and 702

    Reid Newsroom
    Sen. Reid’s Nevada Press Office 202-224-9521 (for inquiries from Nevada media)
    Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center 202-224-2939

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:02:30 AM PST

  •  could not even get thru on dick durbin's phone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, betelgeux

    today, so i faxed him.
    here is reid's fax #
    202-224-7327
    faxed him too.

    Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job. -- Adlai E. Stevenson (GOTV)

    by marzook on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:04:29 AM PST

  •  He is a wimp, n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux
  •  Reid's lines are busy, try (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Eric Nelson, betelgeux

    one of his offices, via this link:

    http://www.reid.senate.gov/...

    Best/sh

  •  Reid gets played for a fool by the GOP over and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux

    over and over again, and yet he is backing away from this because he doesn't want to start on a sourly note??  Seriously?  The GOP must just laugh their asses off and absolutely marvel at how clueless Dems are.  Reid and Dems just don't have the stomach to do what's necessary to lead my party in today's politics.  So I wish he'd/they'd just get the hell out of the way.

  •  The GOP uses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux

    every dirty trick they can and many times not even 'legal' ones and Reid is going to concern troll over how hurt their fee-fee's might be...

    Damnit why do Democrats have to always be such pussies.

  •  Reid & Dems are like the stereotypical girlfriend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux

    or wife who gets cheated on and abused over and over again, but she still always takes him back and genuinely thinks he's changed and they can work it all out and make a happy life together.

    •  Stockholm Syndrome (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FrankSpoke, betelgeux

      We've been watching this same movie over and over again for, what, 15 years now?  When do we get a break?

      Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:27:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just tried to call, but Sen. Reid's mailbox is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux

    full. I also tried to leave a message for his staff, but after holding online for about 5 minutes, contentedly listening to classical music, I suddenly got a loud, high-pitched solid tone instead and had to hang up. Apparently Sen. Reid's office is busy today. Good! I'm going to keep trying, but I have a doctor's appt. soon. I hope I haven't discouraged anyone else from trying to call. You can also access his email form here:
    http://www.reid.senate.gov/...

    “Social Security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or erasing or lowering the deficit.” -- Ronald Reagan, 1984 debate with Walter Mondale

    by RJDixon74135 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:10:25 AM PST

  •  Highly disingenuous to pin this on Reid. (0+ / 0-)
    A majority of the Democratic caucus wants real change.
    That's not enough. Reid needs 50 votes for something. If he doesn't have it, he can't bring it to the floor. Simple as that. He will bring to the floor whatever he can that he knows will get 50 votes.

    Don't blame him, blame the senators who won't vote aye.

    •  We're whipping votes for him (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      betelgeux

      and it won't work if he, himself (and the WH) isn't on board with the plan.

      Again, we saw this routine played out numerous times during the health care reform debates.  The WH works through the Senate to enact its agenda. Reid follows orders from the WH, even if voters want something different.

      So, Reid isn't up for re-election for another 5 years, after which time he'll probably retire.  There's no downside to Reid telling the twerps in the WH that they're wrong on this one, that its time to stop with the fruitless attempts at backroom deals with the GOP.

      Reid has nothing to lose by standing up to the WH and calling for a different strategy.  Whatever legislation/tax breaks/corporate welfare/deregulation their corporate donors want passed this term can still be passed with real filibuster reform. It just may become public more quickly than having it buried in the fine print of some back room deal with the GOP.

      If we're lucky, we'll get some bills passed that will help the 99%

      Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:40:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Calling Harry Reid (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, True North, betelgeux

    Reid is my Senator. I had already called once about this, but tried to answer Joan's call and again register my opinion on the filibuster (i.e., strong reform required, and negotiating with McConnell should be a non-starter). I can't get through on the phone, either on the special line for Nevada residents or the regular Senate number. Let's hope he's getting an earful.

  •  I think that Obama has taught Reid A trick or ten. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux

    I think this is rope a dope with McConnel being the dope. Reid is paying out enough heavy rope for Mitch and the rest of the Republicans to hang themselves with politically. Every senator knows that the silent filibuster is massively unpopular. This is ground work for 2014. The republicans will play out a stalling game yet again, pissing off John and Jane Q. Public even further. The NRA shat the bed with its response to Sandy Hook and the options presented by the working group lead by Biden. The NRA wags the republican dog. That tail is now out in the open and a magnet for all that is wrong with guns and gun ownership in our country.
    Pair that with McConnell's Dear Patriot e-mail and the other house shennanigans like the debt limit and attempting yet again to take the country hostage via the economy and The box is getting built around them and they are actively assisting  in its construction.

    Give blood. Play hockey.

    by flycaster on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:26:15 AM PST

  •  Folks who want the Merkley/Udall... (0+ / 0-)

    Which means 51 Dem votes also than don't mind when the GOP uses it's majority power in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio or the coming red menace to NC or Indiana.  

    Compromise is a bad thing, but we want Walker, Snyder, Kasich to work with Dems on issues.  

    You say it's about making it work - but the GOP in Michigan believe right-to-work is the right thing for the State so forced it through in the lame duck simply because they could.  

    Now is Levin/McCain strong enough? I don't know, but I'd rather see Reid use the pressure from Merkley/Udall to maybe get a bit stronger negotiated reform.

    No reform is worse than Levin/McCain and I'd be willing to bet Merkley/Udall doesn't have the 51 votes.  

    "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

    by Jacoby Jonze on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:35:46 AM PST

  •  Kay Hagan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, betelgeux, jdlas

    I called her office trhis morning.
    I have sent enough of those e-mails this site produces to make her Staff hate me.

  •  I think Reid needs to be reminded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux

    how close he came to being defeated by a tea party unknown. If this Congress is as dysfunctional as the last, he will be responsible.

    "I'm not a Kindergarten Cop, I'm a Terminator." - kos

    by cjenk415 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:51:11 AM PST

  •  Reid is the problem not the solution (0+ / 0-)

    Well he can see the future. Dems run Hillary she loses.
    Gerrymandering has screwed any chance of the Dems winning the house (though if
    they ran some people from the left they could grow in the house). The senate is
    his and he doesn't have any fucks to give and wants at least one more term as
    leader of the Senate before he goes off to unload his offshore accounts from
    big business, wall street, banks and of course the NRA. This is not even a
    story since he was never going to win anyway. Congress is made up of 535 1%ers
    plus the President and Vice President who do not care what we think, or worry
    about or get stressed over. They are looking out for themselves first, second
    and last. We are not in the club and the closest we come is to occasionally
    catch wind of some flatulence as they walk by.

    Watch this clip of George Carlin. We are not in the club.

    http://www.youtube.com/...

  •  No Surprise Here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betelgeux

    "But Harry Reid is wavering, still trying to work out a watered down approach with Mitch McConnell in a process that could drag on for a week or even two."

    No surprise here at all.

    But, Harry Baby, you might want to rethink THIS one.  Because if you waffle now in order to get Mitch McConnell on your side, you are going to give a lot of people -- especially me -- the idea that you are in reality in Mitch McConnell's hip pocket, ready to do his bidding at his beck and call.

    Or do you like singing "Whatever Mitchie Wants, Mitchie Gets?"

    Sometimes I swear that you are trying to out-Joe-Lieberman Joe Lieberman.  Come on, Harry; make up your mind which party you REALLY want to work for.

  •  If the Senate forgoes filibuster reform, (0+ / 0-)

    they must be prepared to go without our campaign contributions.

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