Reform Claims to Have 51 Votes
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), a leading proponent of filibuster reform, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has the 51 votes he needs to change Senate rules with the "nuclear option."
The maneuver would be controversial, however, and could heighten partisan tensions at the start of the 113th Congress in January. Republicans say using 51 votes to change Senate procedures -- and to prevent the minority party in the Senate from blocking a majority-vote -- amounts to breaking the rules to change them.
"The crucial thing for all of you to know is Harry Reid's got 51 votes to do the Constitutional option at the beginning of the Congress," Udall said. "My sense is if he can't get agreement on the other side, then he's going to go forward."
Changing rules with a simple majority vote is considered so controversial it is sometimes called the nuclear option. Democrats backing the maneuver have described it as the "Constitutional option."
A bipartisan group of senators including Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the ranking Republican member of the Rules panel, are meanwhile working on a bipartisan compromise to change filibuster rules under regular order, which requires 67 votes.
Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Carl Levin (D-MI) are part of the ad-hoc group working on a compromise to avoid the nuclear option.
The bipartisan group of senators floated their plan Friday afternoon.
It stops far short of the broader weakening of the filibuster that Udall, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and other Democrats are pushing to adopt with the "nuclear" or "constitutional" option.
Under the bipartisan plan, the Senate would adopt an order at the opening of the next Congress that would give the majority leader more tools to overcome procedural barriers to debating bills.
"The key, number one part is to give the majority leader options to overcome the filibuster and the threat of a filibuster on a motion to proceed. That has been the greatest problem around here in terms of getting to the business of working on bills," Levin said at a press conference.
The plan, according to a summary, would limit and substantially expedite debate on a "motion to proceed" to legislation, and seek to ensure that both parties have the option to offer amendments to bills.
Elsewhere, the plan would consolidate motions to go to conference on bills with the House, and expedite action on some judicial nominations, among other features.
It also calls on the respective Democratic and Republican leaders to less formally press their caucuses not to hold up bills.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 12/28/2012
Editor's Note: While the US Constitution allows for each body of Congress to make its own rules, so, too, did it mandate that Senators be selected for office by each State's legislatures...We're just saying...Additionally, any move to decrease the protection of the minority -- whether the minority of the populace in government, or the minority party in government -- is a dangerous and slippery slope that can only lead to majority rule (pure Democracy abhorred by our Framers), or mob rule, where minority rights are not protected.
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