Sen. Dick Durbin: "We need to revisit" the filibuster rules


filibuster reform

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill), don't tease us, please don't tease us... unless you mean it. After my previous post, many of us got a Chris Matthews thrill up our collective leg: Senate Dems think Harry Reid should revisit filibuster reform if GOP continues to block Chuck Hagel.

Of course, Harry Reid never really wanted to change the filibuster. Dick Durbin said that he was uncertain whether the filibuster deal that Reid made with McConnell would make it easier to pass bills, saying, “It requires good will [and] good faith.” Well, at least he has a sense of humor.

But we've had enough. As Rachel Maddow put it, “How’s that ‘gentleman’s agreement’ going now that we’ve just had a filibuster of a cabinet nominee for the first time in American history?”  And it appears that Durbin is asking himself and Harry Reid the same question.

Durbin, via Roll Call:

“We have tried at the beginning of this Senate session to avoid this kind of filibuster confrontation. The last several years we have had over 400 filibusters — a record number of filibusters in the Senate... I hate to suggest this, but if this is an indication of where we’re headed, we need to revisit the rules again... We need to go back to it again. I’m sorry to say it because I was hopeful that a bipartisan approach to dealing with these issues would work.”  [...]

“We had the first filibuster in history of a secretary of Defense nominee, the first... And now we follow with this filibuster of this D.C. Circuit nominee. I don’t think we’ve achieved much in our rules reform. I don’t think our spirit of bipartisanship has shown much in terms of results.”

Bingo. He's referring to the fact that Senate Republicans just filibustered the nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She got 51 votes.

And GOP Sen. Rand Paul did actually take the floor to “actively filibuster” the nomination of John O. Brennan to be the next CIA director. He talked his fool head off. For hours.

Ironically, that's exactly the kind of filibuster that has been proposed. Under Jeff Merkley’s plan for reform, the filibuster wouldn’t have ended and the Dems would still be able to use the option to filibuster when they are the minority party. It would have taken more effort and transparency to voice opposition, but the filibuster would have remained intact.

Senators Durbin and Reid? Your move.