On Thursday, Senate leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, came to a deal on a very modest, watered-down filibuster reform package – which virtually guarantees that all legislation in the Senate, will again have to meet the 60-vote threshold over the next two years. The filibuster reform does little to put more pressure on the minority party that is filibustering – and only works to speed up the process in the Senate, and cut down on redundant filibusters.
Senator Jeff Merkley, who was leading the charge for strong filibuster reform, including forcing filibustering Senators to actually talk on the floor the entire time they wish to block a bill, expressed “disappointment” that the Senate did not, “take a bolder step to fix” the filibuster. But he did vow, “If the modest steps taken today do not end the paralysis the Senate currently suffers, many Senators are determined to revisit this debate, and explore stronger remedies.”
Unfortunately, they won’t have the opportunity to revisit this issue for another two years – when the new Senate session begins. And that’s only IF Democrats keep the majority. Yesterday, Democrats had a golden opportunity to change the rules of the Senate, and pass legislation on behalf of working people – and also put pressure on House Republicans to moderate their agenda. But, ultimately, they dropped the ball.
Democratic Senator, Tom Harkin, said it best yesterday after the failure to enact real meaningful reform. He said, with Republicans free to continue to obstruct at will, then President Obama, “might as well take a four-year vacation.”