Harry Reid Forced to Back Down on Killing Senate Filibuster

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 24, 2013   |   2:33PM   |   Washington, DC

Republicans have successfully forced Harry Reid to back down from killing the filibuster in the Senate, which would have paved the way for pro-abortion judges and legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have agreed to very modest changes in the filibuster that are leaving some of the most ardent pro-abortion Democratic members of the Senate upset more wasn’t done. The liberal lawmakers wanted Reid to implement the talking filibuster reform, which would force senators seeking to block legislation to stay on the Senate floor to keep a filibuster alive rather than just threatening one.

However, that “reform” will not be included in the final agreement but both agreed to very slight changes that will speed up Senate business without getting rid of the filibuster altogether.

“The majority leader would be able to bar a filibuster on a motion to proceed if he allows each side votes on two amendments, according to a Senate aide familiar with the package. Non-germane amendments would be subject to a 60-vote threshold, under this scenario,” the Hill reports. “The tentative deal would expedite the process for sending legislation to conference negotiations with the House. But lawmakers would still be allowed to filibuster any effort to send legislation to a Senate-House negotiation.”

“Currently, senators can filibuster three separate motions to go to conference. The proposed reform would collapse those into one motion subject to filibuster. It would reduce the time allocated to go to conference from 30 hours to 2 hours,” it reported. “In return for these concessions from McConnell, Reid will hold off from using the nuclear option to change Senate rules unilaterally. The controversial tactic allows the majority leader to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote.”

Conservative writer Ed Morrissey breaks down what happened, saying Reid “made the mistake of overpromising and underdelivering.”

“Reid’s vow to use the nuclear option to get rid of the filibuster turned into only a limitation on how many filibusters the minority can stage on one issue.  The filibuster otherwise lives — even for judicial appointments, although somewhat restricted,” he writes.

“The only really significant changes to the filibuster itself is that it can no longer be applied to a motion to proceed, but only to a floor vote, and that Senators must be present to filibuster.  It still takes 60 votes to gain cloture, and it still means that bills — like, say, Dianne Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban – will have to gain significant Republican support to pass,” Morrissey noted.

“If I had to guess, I’d say that the prospect of living under any other rules in the minority after 2014 prompted some moderate Democrats to slow down the “reform” train, as well as the prospect of setting a 51-vote precedent for rules changes and placing it in Republican hands in 2015. Instead of dictating an end to the filibuster, Reid ended up settling for a compromise that refines it, but essentially leaves it in the hands of the minority,” he continued. “It looks as though McConnell got his wish in reforming the amendment process, too.  The first section gives the right to the minority to offer amendments in rotation with the majority, which means Reid can no longer “fill the tree” by introducing enough amendments to shut out Republicans, although the schedule becomes constricted significantly if cloture is invoked for both the majority and minority.”



The short version for pro-lifers? The right of pro-life lawmakers to hold up pro-abortion legislation and pro-abortion judges has been retained. That was the major source of contention from pro-life groups fighting against killing the filibuster.