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Schumer Ups the Senate Reform Rhetoric

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) in again talking about the possibility of Democrats using the nuclear option to curtain the filibuster. From The Hill:

Senate Democrats are still angry over the Republican blockade of Caitlin Halligan, whom President Obama nominated in September of 2010 to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She withdrew her nomination in March.

“The filibuster of Caitlin Halligan was a travesty. It represented the demise of the Gang of 14 agreement that this Senate has operated under the last few years,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership. “The blocking of the Halligan nomination proves that Republicans now treat judicial filibuster as the rule, not the exception.”

Already this saber rattle has worked. After a year of needless delays, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) finally allowed Sri Srinivasan to be confirmed to the DC Circuit Court in an unanimous vote.

This is appears to be a smart tactical retreat for McConnell. Given Reid’s history of threatening to fix the Senate then backing down at the last minute and several Democrats’ stated fear of democracy, McConnell may simply need to give Democrats a few token victories to stop the push for reform.

In the past, McConnell’s  merely agreeing to a “gentlemen’s agreement” and a set of incredibly minor and temporary rules changes were enough to take the momentum out of earlier pushes for real reform.

Photo by David Boyle in DC under Creative Commons license.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at