US Senate Passes Watered-Down Filibuster Reform






” Will the move keep the minority — currently Republicans — from obstructing major bills? Certainly not. But it could reduce the pervasive use of dilatory tactics that have killed off countless pieces of legislation and delayed presidential nominees, sometimes for months.

The changes, which passed 86-9, will help legislation reach the floor of the chamber more quickly by barring a senator from using a blocking tactic, known as the filibuster, at the beginning of debate on a bill.

“It is a step in the right direction,” Democrat Tom Harkin said of the deal which was brokered by four Senate Democrats and four Republicans after weeks of negotiation.

Harkin was among a small group of progressive senators who pushed for more radical alterations to the chamber’s rules, including a requirement that senators talk out their filibusters live on the Senate floor, as in the Hollywood classic “Mr Smith Goes to Washington.”

But those bids were defeated, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top Republican Mitch McConnell agreed to a compromise hashed out by the bipartisan group.

Senate rules until now allowed a lawmaker to filibuster a bill at many stages of the process.

But senators including Democrat Carl Levin and Republican John McCain argued that members had abused a favored blocking tactic by the minority, essentially killing legislation by filibustering the motion to move toward debating a bill.”