Thursday was the first day of the 113th Congress
In the House, John Boehner was narrowly elected to his second term as Speaker – surviving a revolt by a handful of Tea Party Republicans. But the action is in the Senate, where the battle for filibuster reform is heating up. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brought the Senate into session yesterday, then immediately recessed it until later this month, keeping alive the option to reform the filibuster in a few weeks with a simple majority vote. That gives time for Senators Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall to whip up support for their plan to bring back the talking filibuster, which will force Senators to actually stand on the floor and talk the entire time they wish to filibuster.
Meanwhile, a group of bipartisan Senators led by John McCain are trying to kill filibuster reform, with a watered down version that will actually make the problem even worse. That’s because Republicans know there filibustering over the last few years has meant big money for their corporate donors. As the Public Campaign Action Fund found, huge money from corporate America, including Big Oil and Wall Street, is fueling the filibusters to make sure their tax rates stay low, their subsidies keep flowing, and that regulations are kept to a minimum. In other words, the filibuster is very profitable for Corporate America, which is why Republicans are desperately trying to keep it.
But if Democrats want any chance at taking back the House of Representatives in two years, then its critical they take up the Merkley-Udall plan, and reform the filibuster to finally get some good, progressive legislation passed out of the upper chamber. Stay tuned.