GOP warns of shutdown over Senate filibuster


A partisan war is brewing that could bring the government to a screeching halt as early as January — and no, it’s not over the fiscal cliff.

It’s all about the filibuster.

Democrats are threatening to change filibuster rules, in what will surely prompt a furious GOP revolt that could make those rare moments of bipartisan consensus even harder to come by during the next Congress.

Here’s what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering: banning filibusters used to prevent debate from even starting and House-Senate conference committees from ever meeting. He also may make filibusters become actual filibusters — to force senators to carry out the nonstop, talkathon sessions.

Republicans are threatening even greater retaliation if Reid uses a move rarely used by Senate majorities: changing the chamber’s precedent by 51 votes, rather than the usual 67 votes it takes to overhaul the rules.

“I think the backlash will be severe,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the conservative firebrand, said sternly. “If you take away minority rights, which is what you’re doing because you’re an ineffective leader, you’ll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we’ll do what we have to do to fight back.”

“It will shut down the Senate,” the incoming Senate GOP whip, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, told POLITICO. “It’s such an abuse of power.”

The push will happen at the start of the new Congress, when Reid will unveil a rules package certain to have some changes to the filibuster. The exact contents of that package have yet to be finalized, as is the decision on whether to invoke the so-called nuclear option — 51 votes — to push it through. But Democratic senators are urging Reid to take steps ranging from the most draconian one of virtually eliminating the filibuster to more piecemeal changes designed to discourage the use of the stalling tactic.

What Reid appears most likely to do is push for an end to the filibuster on so-called motions to proceed, or the beginning of a debate on bills or nominations. If Reid goes this route, senators could still filibuster virtually any other aspect of Senate business, including any movement to end debate and call for a final vote on a bill.

And Reid is strongly considering pushing for other filibuster changes, too — most notably requiring senators to actually go to the floor and carry out an endless talking session, rather than simply threaten them as they do now. Reminiscent of the 1939 movie classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the idea has picked up steam in liberal circles — and its intent is to discourage senators from filibustering, though it would fundamentally change the very nature of the modern Senate.

“We cannot allow the Senate to be dysfunctional by the use of filibusters,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Reid’s No. 2. “We’ve had over 300 filibusters in the last six years — it’s unprecedented. What we’re talking about is very basic — you want to start a filibuster, you want to stop the business of the Senate, by goodness’ sake, park your fanny on the floor of the Senate and speak. If you want to go to dinner and go home over the weekend, be prepared, the Senate is moving forward.”

By and large, Reid and his caucus are on board with this approach — they are furious at what they see as deliberate attempts by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues to threaten filibusters on even the most routine pieces of legislation or noncontroversial nominations simply to stall President Barack Obama’s agenda.

“They have made it an almost impossible task to get things done,” Reid said.

While several incoming freshmen, including Massachusetts liberal Elizabeth Warren, support changing the rules by a majority vote, it could present a problem for other new Democrats who ran as consensus builders to have to cast a partisan vote on their very first action next year.

“It isn’t a concern just because the Republicans are concerned,” said Rep. Joe Donnelly, the incoming Indiana Democratic senator. “We want to make sure we protect the things that make the Senate unique, so I want to make sure I make the right decision on this.”

Republicans say this is a problem of the Democrats’ own making. They blame Reid for quickly attempting to shut down debate without giving Republicans a chance to offer amendments, even on bills that skip the committee process entirely.

Republicans say eliminating filibusters — even on a piecemeal basis — will undermine the fundamental underpinnings of the Senate as a body designed to operate on consensus and protect the minority party, making the body run like the House, where the majority rules with an iron fist.

“If what [Reid] talks about doing is in fact what he does, … then that reduces that much more leverage of the minority to insist on an open amendment process,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said. “I worry about it.”

At the start of the 112th Congress, Reid and McConnell — along with Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and the top Republican on the panel, Sen. Lamar Alexander — brokered a “gentleman’s agreement” to operate the Senate more openly and avert a filibuster showdown on the floor.

But that process quickly broke down, and Reid later admitted that he made a mistake when he dissuaded Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) from pushing forward a sweeping filibuster reform package, which they dubbed the “constitutional option.” The procedural squabbling hit fever pitch in October 2011, when Reid forced through a change in the rules to limit the ability of senators to force votes on amendments once a filibuster was defeated.

While the change in the rule did not alter the legislative process substantively, the process employed by Reid outraged Republicans, since he forced through a change to Senate precedents by a 51-48 vote — rather than by two-thirds. While this arcane process is allowed under Senate procedures, it’s rarely employed for fear future majorities would replicate the tactics and work their will over minority rights to stall legislation — something McConnell gravely warned Reid about.

When Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) threatened to employ a similar maneuver in 2005, Democratic critics labeled it as the “nuclear option.”

“Then-Sen. Obama thought it would be wrong to make the changes when the Republicans were in the majority; then-Sen. [Joe] Biden thought it was a bad idea when the Democrats were in the minority; and Harry Reid thought it was an awful idea when he was in the minority because he said no one group should be able to run roughshod over the other group,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), No. 4 in GOP leadership.

Other Republicans warn it will further damage an already toxic political climate at a time of monumental economic and budgetary problems.

“This is not the time to create a divisive distraction that Democrats said in 2006 would destroy the United States Senate,” Alexander told POLITICO. “One of the biggest ways to do that, not to [reach a budget deficit deal], is to do what Sen. Reid said in 2006, would be to use the nuclear option to blow up the Senate by trying to change the filibuster rules.”

But Democrats don’t think the changes will prevent the minority from exerting its rights. And if Democrats push through their “talking filibuster” plan, both Barrasso and Coburn say they’d be willing to go to the floor and make their objections heard.

“I’ll filibuster any way I can,” Coburn said. “If you want to filibuster, you ought to be willing to get out and earn it. I don’t have any problems with that.”

Posted to: Federal Government News Politico Politics

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The party in control is the Party In Control. It is not something that any of us can do anything about, and those senators know it. There is to be no more compromise, there is to be no more civility, there is to be no more sanity. We the American people lose and they really don't care aobut it. We the people voted thise baboons into office and we get what we vote for.

Politics at its finest!

What is already taking place

What is already taking place in the House?

The house is a different creature.

Power there is maintained by control during the census years and gerrymandering.

That is why, even after Obama was overwhelming re-elected, and gains were made in the Senate, only 5 or 6 seats were picked up in the house. It was not physically possible giving the redrawing of the district lines.

The Republicans were in control when redistricting took place after the 2010 census.

That's the way it works in our American form of government. Whoever is in power at the opportune time makes the rules.

Election 2010 Redistricting Gains Will Give GOP Lasting Majority

By Peter Roff http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2010/09/28/election-2010-redistricting-gains-will-give-gop-lasting-majority

Simply a rhetorical

Simply a rhetorical question. Answer should be obvious to all...

Thwarting democracy

The gerrymandered districts have effectively thwarted the public will. For House seats, more votes were cast for Democrats than for Republicans on a popular vote basis, but gerrymandered districts diluted the Democratic vote so much that a majority of Republicans were elected to the House. Combine gerrymandering with voter suppression laws, and what you have is a party devoted to undermining democratic elections or, put another way, to the demolition of democracy itself.

At some point in time, some

At some point in time, some of the more intelligent members of the Senate will realize that the large majority of us peons who live outside the beltway think both the House and the Senate have already shut down. This pompous politicians really seem to believe that we work for them instead of the other way around. I'm talking about both parties which seem to believe that each can dictate to the other and that talking across the aisle is a criminal offense. Frankly, given their record over the last decade or so, it may be wise to give them all a pink slip and send them off to detention for a readjustment session. It is about time they earned the right and the honor to represent us, and to stay in a legislative body, they must do our work.


The odd thing is, Reid and supporters of this change are behaving as though the Dems always will be the majority party in the Senate. As with a great many things done by politicians it doesn't appear this has been fully thought out. Will Democrats really be pleased with this change to the filibuster rule once they again are in the minority (and it will happen at some point)?

On another note, nice how Politico brands Tom Coburn "the conservative firebrand" (a mild pejorative - http://www.thefreedictionary.com/firebrand) but doesn't label Reid as either a liberal or an obstructionist who hasn't passed a budget in over three years. Way to be objective.

As the article points out,

As the article points out, when the Dems were in the minority they objected to just these kind of rules changes. I guess they are feeling invulnerable since they did not lose as many Senate seats as they thought in the elections.

As much as I despise the way Reid has run the Senate, and his heavy handed tactics that have made cooperation much more difficult, it is time to change some of these filibuster rules. The Repubs will just have to deal with it, and when they get the majority again they can enjoy it.

wanjt their cake & eat it too

Demorats sure didn't want this done to them but are quickly doing it to the repubs. Sorry, can't have it both ways. & if you do it, look out come midterm elections. Just like the last set of midterm elections they(dems) got their clocks cleaned. & if the repubs that got put in hadn't done such a crappy job they would've won the last POTUS elections. I have never seen a group that threw out their momentum w/the crappiest toll deals & womens health rollbacks. What the dems are doing is wrong, just as it would've been wrong for the repubs to have done it also. Remember, you may not always be the ones in control & when you are you better not try to fix the other side, you'll be on that side one day, & it won't be pretty.

Plenty of room at the Inn.

Both parties are practicing Domestic Terrorism.
Maybe a stint at the Gitmo Inn where they are treated like the terrorist which they are instead of the coddled elite is in order.
I'm not suggesting they be water boarded but then I'm not all that against it either.

Of the people, by the people, for the people

Saw the movie "Lincoln" this weekend, great flick. Early on they quoted some (maybe all) of the Gettysburg Address, with the line about government being "of the people, by the people, for the people". Does anyone believe we still have that? More like we have government that is by itself, for itself, and of itself, and it will create the laws to keep us in line, then hire the gunman to enforce them.

It's been bad, it's getting worse. Trend is in the wrong direction.

What was voted for

This is, unfortunately, what America voted for--either knowingly or unknowingly. The movie "Lincoln" will surely be a history lesson, because the vision he had, the place we were once at, will truly be history at the hands of those want all the power...

Saw it myself Friday night

Saw it myself Friday night at the Commodore. Did we see the same movie? Lincoln did all that was necessary to achieve his objectives, even if admittedly sometimes of questionable legality. Great movie though.

It has become a government

Of, by and for the corporate oligarchy. Money talks and the rest are disposable serfs. Lincoln seeing the rise of the robber barons wrote,
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes
me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war,
corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places
will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong
its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth
is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."

The abuse of filibusters has

The abuse of filibusters has already effectively shut government down. The GOP threat is a toothless one.


Is it too late to sent them to their rooms?
Really I would like to see an old fashion filibuster because when that happens it will be in the news. Now someone just says they will filibust and the bill sits.

Its long overdue.

The use of the filibuster has increased almost 400% in the past 4 years by obstructionist Republicans.

An overhaul is long overdue. And if Americans don't like the legislation passed by the Democratic majority, they can vote the Democrats out and put in Republicans and change it.

But Republicans know that once the legislation goes into effect and 98% of Americans see that it actually benefits them instead of the typical Republican legislation geared towards corporations and the extremely wealthy, the Democrats will not be voted out.

That is what they Corporate Party truly fears.

That is a really 'open

That is a really 'open minded comment', someone is very foolish if they think that Republicans are all for the wealthy. That is truly very ignorant thinking.

I am well aware of the fact that our government and both

parties, with the exception of a few select and rare individuals are controlled by wealthy corporate interests.

In fact both parties stink. But they are the only parties there are and one must make a choice. And in that choice one must select between the proverbial lesser of two evils.

And between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party there is no question to anyone who is even remotely paying attention as which one is completely a puppet of wealthy corporate interests.


"which one is completely a puppet of wealthy corporate interests"

They BOTH are. The only real difference is that Democrat must rationalize and contort their perceptions to ignore the corporate influence controlling their party.

Quit kidding yourself. The Democrats are not Robin Hood. They're just really good at fooling the fools.

Oh by the way, both parties

Oh by the way, both parties are corporate parties. Dems take a buttload of $$$$ from big corporate interests, Verizon, Goldman Sacks, AFL-CIO, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Bill Maher, Chase Bank, etc, etc, etc!

Yes, they are both corporate parties.

Everything you have stated is absolutely correct and I totally agree.

But I lack the energy and the word space right now to explain the differences that do exist between the two parties. And as always, with the comments I make on this forum, I do not expect to change opinions except perhaps on the rare occasion. It is just personal expression and a choice to engage in a form of social and political debate with other participants. It keeps me reading and paying attention to the issues and I am interested in what those who differ or disagree with my views have to say, even when I think they are naive and ignorant as no doubt many here think of me. :-)

Get rid of it

There is nothing in the Constitution about the filibuster.

Get rid of it.

Get rid of it

Theres nothing in the constitution about guaranteed health insurance either.

Get rid of it.


you are wrong on that point. The Constitution does say "Provide for the general welfare". Yes that's a bit open ended but, still its there. As for the filibuster, I see nothing referring to it.

Exactly, Provide for the General Welfare

That means full healthcare for every person living in the United States Cradle to Grave

Full education opportunities, as long as people want to study, why should only the rich have the opportunity to be a Dr.?

Childcare for all to allow those to work who can't afford childcare during the day.

Obviously affordable and safe housing.

Even more obviously food. I don't even understand why we charge for such a basic necessity, the government should hand out as much food as each family needs.

Transportation, the government should make sure public transportation is available to everyone who wants it.

Communications, in today's digital world having access to high speed internet is a basic part of an individuals general welfare.

Thank you, Mr. Slippery Slope . . .

. . . for your sardonic response. It's inane, but it's there. Feel better now? A retired cousin of mine died because he was waiting for Medicare elgibility before getting some tests. He couldn't afford a $1300 monthly health insurance premium on his pension and social security, so waiting for Medicare was his only option. Problem is, he died with blood flowing from both ends before he became eligible for it.

typical silly statement

Anyone with any knowledge of government would understand the rules of Senate are not defined by the Constution. Read it sometime, you might learn something.

Senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn.

Don't like the rule....then change the rule, as the democrat leader wants to do. Be careful what you ask for, it could come back to haunt you later.

And for those who will say that the filibuster is not being used

for obstruction but to protect the minority.
You mean the way voter ID laws were to prevent fraud?
Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law...A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.
Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose:

what bridges does crist have left

Is there a bridge that former governor Crist has not burnt?
What is he doing now as former governor in the realm of party politics?

If you say there is no voter fraud then prove it. Conduct a door to door survey of all voters in several districts that were in competitive races. Ask the voter if they actually voted. Ask if they moved since the last election and see if there was issued an absentee ballot was issued to the voter at the former address.

The best way to get rid of worry of election fraud is to change the electoral college: one vote for each congressional district win (districts are apportioned the same number of people); one for the sitting governor, and one for the popular vote.

The burden of proof . . .

. . . when it comes to voter fraud or any other statement represented as fact is on the person who asserts it. So back at you: prove it.

Don't jump to conclusions

It was not Governor Crist who spilled the beans. It was operatives including Jim Greer (GOP State Chairman), Wayne Bertsch and others.

go back to making the way it used to be, filibuster is over when

What they should donis go back to the old way. Make the filibustering senator stay on the floor and talk. Make the senators put some skin in the game, not just rise and say "I filibuster" and sit down and go out for dinner.

Also make it compulsory for

Also make it compulsory for the other senators to sit in the chamber and listen to it!

Just imagine

if we had term limits the parties would be forced to do their jobs instead of depending on incompetent bxxbs who have neither the brains or ability to think clearly, intelligently or independently (Virginia Foxx, R, North Carolina and Alan Grayson, D, Florida come to mind.) Maybe if they were required to work 8 hours days and finish legislation by deadlines we'd think they are worth their salaries. As it stands right now not one of them is worth the toilet paper it takes to wipe themselves.

is the rant true and based in fact?

The rant is that Republicans have abused the filibuster as never before done.
The challenge to the rant is can anyone give two bills that were voted out of committee with GOP votes (aye) and/or GOP amendments AND was filibustered?
Minorities and majorities in the senate change with elections, personal choice (jumping Jim Jeffords), and even the sad untimely death/resignation (107th Congress and begins with Dem control (Gore as VP), and then GOP (Cheney as VP), then Jeffords switch, then Wellstone sad death back again).

Leave the filibuster as is. The solution is to COMPROMISE and not shut out the GOP.

When has the GOP filibustered bills when voted out of committee with GOP votes? Hint - NEVER.

Yes and yes

It just depends on which facts you pick and what you consider truth.

Oh I get it.

Your party and its ideas were totally repudiated but the democrats should just let you have your way anyway? Your party has spent the last four years doing EVERYTHING in its power - not to advance the country - but to make President Obama, and therefore America, fail - but democrats should just let you have your way?

You folks curled up in the Fox Bubble may not know it, but to anybody in the real world it is painfully obvious that Obama's biggest mistake in his first term was believing that the GOP would meet him halfway on matters of vital importance. They had no such intention, they never did and I hope the President has learned his lesson.

The filibuster is an anachronism from a distant past. It needs to go.

Totally repudiated???

Take a look at the People's House.

I have looked at the House election.

You should too. Democrats in total received about a million more votes than did the Republicans. The House is still controlled by the GOP only because of Gerrymandering.

The fact is that the President won when the economy said he would lose. GOP Senate candidates lost in states they should have won. And, democrats out-polled the GOP-T in House elections. The people HAVE spoken. Let's see if the GOP knows how to listen.

that is bogus

Each congressional district has about 700,000 people. Almost each congressional district is unique in their constituency base.

So how is almost all the voters in a few select districts equate to your statistic meaning a national mandate by a majority?

How did you arrive at a talking point that because the Democrats had a cummulative majority vote in the 435 congressional districts that it means something of party favorability?

With each district having about 700,000 and in just one district the GOP candidate is very unfavorable in THAT district and gets just 25% (62,500)of the 250,000 votes and that is repeated in just TEN districts you reach your million vote lead. 10 out of 435 - big deal, lousy statistic.

Paul, it is unsurprising that the Dems

recieved more votes. My point is that this is a REPUBLIC not a democracy. The Congress was specifically set up to emphasize that fact. The House of Representatives is called "The People's House" because the method of selection ensures that people from all over the Republic are represented not just concentrations within the Republic. It shows that the people of the Republic are still not drinking the kool-aid.

I understand your point

and it is true that the plutocrats who set this country up were afraid of popular decisions - even though only male landowners had the franchise. With that said, they did NOT anticipate Gerrymandering which has assured almost every incumbent in a very unpopular House an easy re-election. Look at people like Bobby Scott or Randy Forbes, as examples.

Obviously, the GOP held the Congress. My point was that this is NOT a sign of any desire by the people for divided, ineffective government. It is a sign of Gerrymandering.

Interesting how the increasingly unpopular and counter-productive rightwing ideas leads to more and more talk along the lines that we are not REALLY a democracy and that one man-one vote is a bad thing.

Now you are trying to put words in my mouth

As for this being a 'new thing', I am afraid you are mistaken. All the conservatives I know have always been aware that this is a Republic, not a direct democracy, and that is was specifically crafted as such. The one-person-one-vote concept does not go away in a Republic, nor is it a bad thing. As for gerrymandering favoring Republicans, I think you need to look at the issue a little more closely.

there you go again

The catch words "you folks" matched with "Fox Bubble" is very funny since I watch Fox along with CNN, ABC, and NBC, so that I get a broad view of what is going on and may or is affecting/effecting me and my family. I stop watching Fox News on Sunday while flipping channels between ABC This Week, and Face the Nation on CBS. Honestly, I will flip between Morning Joe and ABC Good Morning America and Fox & Friends and a small detour through Today.

Suggestion - stop watching Fox News so much if you don't like it. It is either you are allowing someone to tell you what they are saying OR you are watching Fox News to know what is being said. I really have no clue what on their news.

Sorry about bursting your stereotypical "bubble".

I did not invent this concept

of the "Fox Bubble." It is coming from GOP politicians trying to figure out how they could have been so wrong about what was really going on with the election. Apparently, for example, Romney really, really thought he was a shoo-in to win. He thought this because inside the rightwing media bubble all people heard was that ALL the polls were bogus and that Obama was an America-hating Kenyan Mau-Mau socialist. They managed to fool nobody but themselves and the haters who make up the bulk of their base.

I think I remember you predicting a decisive Romney win. Where did you get such bad information if not from Fox and Rush?

Make it an old-fashioned filibuster

Never in the history of the United States has the right to filibuster been so abused as it has over the past several years. McConnell, who adopted as his highest priority in the senate the denial of a second term for Obama, has led the most obstructive governmental faction ever, one that has so abused the filibuster that they now deserve to be denied access to it. But rather than do away with it entirely, reinstating the talking filibuster would be preferable. That way, the senate members will be far more selective in what they choose to filibuster and will do it only when it really, truly counts for something.

The GOP should filibuster everything

but a new Budget. It is really, really, really amazing that the Senate has neglected this basic Constitutional duty for four years without censorship.

What "Constitutional duty" are you referring to?

If you do a little research you will find that the budgetary process has evolved through legislation and is not spelled out in the Constitution. The Senate "budget" that the GOP has been whining about is a non-binding political document which the parties have not been able to agree on. Actual spending is based on appropriations which MUST originate in the House, be approved by the Senate and be signed by the President.

I had always considered

Article 1, section 9, clause 7 as requiring a written budget. After re-reading it I can see what your point.

Very gracious.


About time

Filibusters are about protecting minority rights. Great, nothing in the proposals to amend the rules will limit a Senator from filibustering to his or her hearts content on a bill that gets to the floor. The issue is bills don't get that far because the THREAT of a filibuster is used as a tool to block any action on the bill. That is not protecting minority rights, it instead is obstruction by the minority. We don't send Senators and Representatives to DC to obstruct we send them to govern. And yes, in two years it could be the Republicans in charge and Democrats squealing like that stuck pig John Cronyn. So be it. That is a small price to pay for movement in DC.

threaten to filibuster??????

Then do it! Set a time limit of 72 hours non stop. Do others have to sit there? No! Why? Because it sounds like a little kid saying he'll take his trucks and go home.....fine, GO HOME!

If they want Republicans to stand and speak,

make the lazy people stand for 40 hours a week to collect welfare benefits.

What welfare benefits?????

I think you are assuming that folks receiving assistance are all lazy. That's far from the truth. Some on assistance are members of your own family, your neighbors and frieds.

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