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Filibuster 2013

by: tmess2

Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 11:38:09 AM EST


Several weeks back, the US Senate passed a version of filibuster reform, essentially by consent.  Having had some weeks to digest the two resolutions that were adopted, some basic thoughts.

1)  In reaching a compromise, the Senate passed one temporary resolution (expiring at the end of this Congress) and one actual amendment to the Standing Rules.  Because the temporary resolution does not technically amend the standing rule, it is not entirely clear how it impacts the standing rule.

2)  The temporary change (S.Res.15) appears to limit debate on a motion to proceed (without need for a formal cloture motion) and to establish an order for offering and considering amendments after the motion to proceed passes.  The rule also provides for the consideration of amendments after a cloture motion is adopted on the entire bill.  In theory, this rule would effectively require only one cloture motion on a bill, limiting the ability to stall legislation.

3)  The permanent change (S.Res. 16) also makes changes to the rules governing a motion to proceed.  Under this change, if the leaders of both parties sign the cloture motion, there is no further debate on the motion to proceed after the adoption of the cloture motion.  In other words, one Senator can't cause a delay on a bill with bipartisan support by insisting on debating the motion to proceed. 

The permanent changes also address the rules for conference committees.  If a cloture motion is filed on a motion to request/agree to a conference committee, debate on the cloture motion is limited to two hours with no further debate on the motion to proceed to conference if the cloture motion passes.

4)  Both sets of changes eliminate some procedural hurdles that allow built-in delay.  Under the temporary change, a cloture motion is no longer needed on a motion to proceed.  Under the permanent changes, while a cloture motion is still needed to allow a vote on proceeding to a conference committee, there is very limited debate on that motion and the underlying motion for a conference.  These rules do not alter the ability of 41 members to defeat legislation or a nomination, but they do speed up the process after a cloture motion has been adopted and limit the places in the process where a cloture motion is required.

5)  As the recent vote on cloture on the Hagel nomination shows, the problem in the Senate is not just the waiting period after a cloture motion (or the number of places in the process where clotrue can be invoked), but the simple fact that 41 membes can block Senate action.  There were alternative proposals to solve this problem, but the leadership decided (probably because the Republicans control the House) against fighting that battle this Congress.  At some point, some of these ideas need to get serious consideration -- particularly a requirement for actual debate as part of a filibuster and a gradual reduction in the number of voters needed for cloture if a prior cloture motion fails (i.e. at some point, a majority can force a vote on the merits).

tmess2 :: Filibuster 2013

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Filibuster 2013 | 2 comments
Does the Hagel Mess impact this? (0.00 / 0)
will we revisit the rules or just let the GOP continue to slap us around?

2015? (0.00 / 0)
Mid-Congress, it takes 67 votes to amend the rules.  I think things like Hagel may make it possible that the younger members may get their way in 2015 with significant reform.

[ Parent ]
Filibuster 2013 | 2 comments


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