Details here. My guess is that this is Democrats being more afraid of losing the Senate next year (and the White House in 2016) than of Republicans blowing up the Senate, since they didn’t exactly do it last year after Obama’s tyrannical exercising of powers specifically delimited to him in the Constitution (i.e. recess appointments). Republicans’ attempts to blow up the Senate after the Cordray appointment petered out to just being Mike Lee voting no against all uncontroversial Obama judicial nominees for eight months to send a signal, until he stopped bothering. Admittedly, now that we have Lee-sympathetic ideologues like Ted Cruz and Tim Scott in the Senate, there’s a decent possibility that real filibuster reform might mean winning those votes 97-3, which certainly is something to worry about. What puzzles me is this:

The emerging accord is a major step away from the Merkley-Udall “talking filibuster” plan which would have required a filibustering minority to occupy the floor and speak ceaselessly until one side gives in. It’s also more modest than Reid’s middle-path proposal to McConnell, which would have shifted the burden from a majority seeking to advance legislation and nominations to a minority seeking to block them.

The problems here are obvious: primarily, that this strategy is flawed on a conceptual level. Obviously, McConnell isn’t going to have any interest in making it harder to obstruct things, so if he agrees to anything, it will be because it doesn’t make it much harder to obstruct things. Otherwise, it’s better from his perspective to be able to play the victim and have Reid use the nuclear option to force a rules change, a far better play for a Republican than striking generous deals as that will get talk radio and usually the MSM all up in a lather. About the only thing you can learn from this is that McConnell is less interested in obstructing appointments, and is willing to give some on that since it doesn’t really matter to the interests he represents, and he can just obstruct legislation all the time anyway. Statesmanship, I suppose. But the point of filibuster reform is, presumably, to stop obstruction. The idea that you could strike a deal to do this with the chief obstructor is similar to believing Democrats can compromise with Republicans on…any area of policy, I suppose.

Lev filed this under: , ,  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *