VIDEO: Hope for Progressives: Sen. Merkley optimistic filibuster reform will pass this year.


Recently I posted Filibuster reform: “Looks like it’s on.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been promoting the idea, plus half of the 2013 Senate now supports some form of filibuster reform, and Reid said that in the next session of Congress he’d do what he could to break the obstructive GOP filibuster habit.

Before anyone on either side panics, let's remember what Greg Sargent wrote:

Filibuster reform would not do away with the minority’s ability to filibuster. The “talking filibuster” reform and the nixing of the filibuster on the motion to proceed would only make it harder to use procedural tactics, under cover of darkness, for the explicit purpose of stalling the Upper Chamber’s business. The minority would still be able to block the will of a simple majority on the vote to end debate. These are not very meaningful restrictions on the “rights” of the minority. At any rate, now that Reid has made such a vocal push, it’s hard to imagine that Dems won’t move forward on day one of the new session to change the rules with a simple majority vote. Looks like it’s on.

Oh, it's on. Especially if Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has anything to say about it. In fact, he does. He has a few more tricks up his sleeve, in addition to eliminating the minority’s ability to filibuster the same bill more than once and requiring a senator to speak on the floor in order to maintain a filibuster. He wants to prevent the minority from "forcing up to 30 hours of floor time to be wasted even after a supermajority of the Senate votes to break a filibuster on a nominee."

Via Think Progress, he also wants to:

...require the “minority to have to show that they have 41 senators who want to continue” with a filibuster. Thus shifting the burden from the majority to the obstructionists.

In a similar vein, Merkley also called for the minority to show a minimal amount of support before a filibuster could occur. Currently, it takes 60 votes to get nearly anything done in the Senate, but it takes 100 votes to get anything done without enormous amounts of delay. Merkley would address this problem by requiring 5 to 10 senators to sign a “petition to start a filibuster” before such delay could occur. This would have the added bonus of placing those senators on record as the ones responsible for a filibuster, rather than permitting the kind of secrecy that pervades the Senate now.