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Senate Democratic Leadership Jockeying for Position on Senate Rules Reform

photo: litherland via Flickr

Just now, at a Progressive Media summit (which I’m monitoring via the Twitter), Harry Reid acknowledged that changes would have to be made to the Senate filibuster rules in the next session.

That’s quite a reversal, actually. Reid recently scoffed that there was no chance to change Senate rules without 67 votes, a fact contradicted by history.

But Reid is simply riding the same wave of the entire Senate leadership, which is ingratiating themselves to newer members who want to see action on rules reform by testing competing policy measures:

Sens. Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer are each considering proposals to rein in the minority’s power to filibuster […]

Schumer (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference, has told colleagues that he plans to hold hearings on reforming the filibuster at the Senate Rules Committee, which he chairs, according to Democratic sources.

“He’s told me informally that he’s going to have hearings on the history of the filibuster,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who is pushing a proposal to change the Senate rules with 51 votes at the start of the next Congress in January.

Schumer has tentatively scheduled his first hearing on the filibuster for March 24.

Durbin (Ill.), the Senate majority whip and Schumer’s possible rival for the Democratic leader position, has also reached out to freshman and sophomore Democrats behind the scenes to explore reforming the Senate rules.

“Everything’s on the table for discussion,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who has been involved with Durbin’s working group.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure this one out. If Reid goes down in November, either Durbin or Schumer will lead the caucus. And they are each reaching out to junior members who are clamoring for rules reform. Whoever comes up with the best option wins the support of the rank and file. Reid, even if he wins, has to get out in front of this by going along.

Schumer actually has the upper hand here because he runs the Rules Committee through which any changes would come. Durbin has been more public in his support, because of Schumer’s inside track.

We’re getting close to a critical mass on this, provided that Democrats keep their Senate majority and hold enough seats to be able to push this without relying on the problem children of the caucus.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Senate Democratic Leadership Jockeying For Position On Senate Rules Reform

Just now, at a Progressive Media summit (which I’m monitoring via the Twitter), Harry Reid acknowledged that changes would have to be made to the Senate filibuster rules in the next session.

That’s quite a reversal, actually. Reid recently scoffed that there was no chance to change Senate rules without 67 votes, a fact contradicted by history.

But Reid is simply riding the same wave of the entire Senate leadership, which is ingratiating themselves to newer members who want to see action on rules reform by testing competing policy measures:

Sens. Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer are each considering proposals to rein in the minority’s power to filibuster […]

Schumer (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference, has told colleagues that he plans to hold hearings on reforming the filibuster at the Senate Rules Committee, which he chairs, according to Democratic sources.

“He’s told me informally that he’s going to have hearings on the history of the filibuster,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who is pushing a proposal to change the Senate rules with 51 votes at the start of the next Congress in January.

Schumer has tentatively scheduled his first hearing on the filibuster for March 24.

Durbin (Ill.), the Senate majority whip and Schumer’s possible rival for the Democratic leader position, has also reached out to freshman and sophomore Democrats behind the scenes to explore reforming the Senate rules.

“Everything’s on the table for discussion,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who has been involved with Durbin’s working group.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure this one out. If Reid goes down in November, either Durbin or Schumer will lead the caucus. And they are each reaching out to junior members who are clamoring for rules reform. Whoever comes up with the best option wins the support of the rank and file. Reid, even if he wins, has to get out in front of this by going along.

Schumer actually has the upper hand here because he runs the Rules Committee through which any changes would come. Durbin has been more public in his support, because of Schumer’s inside track.

We’re getting close to a critical mass on this, provided that Democrats keep their Senate majority and hold enough seats to be able to push this without relying on the problem children of the caucus.

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David Dayen

David Dayen