Byron York is awfully certain that there will be no filibuster reform for the Senate in the coming weeks:
It's also why you're hearing new rumbling about what many Democrats consider the ultimate fix for the Washington-is-broken problem: eliminating the filibuster. A perennial complaint, unhappiness with the filibuster is likely to reach new heights among Democrats in the next few months. Already, the entire returning Democratic caucus has signed a letter by Sens. Carl Levin and Mark Warner calling for rules changes that will make it easier to kill filibusters. Some are also hoping to make it possible to change the Senate's rules with a simple majority vote, rather than the two-thirds vote required now. That way, Democrats could do anything they want, even without that 60-vote majority.
It won't happen; there aren't the votes. It could even be that Democrats are pushing the anti-filibuster argument so loudly because they know it won't happen. That way, they can position themselves as favoring "filibuster reform" with the comfort of knowing they'll still have the filibuster the next time they're in the minority, which might be soon.
Nevermind, of course, that Republicans' abuse of the filibuster has had the distinctly anti-constitutional effect of transforming the Senate from a majority-rule body to a supermajority-rule body. Conservatives, as we have seen multiple times in the past year, only make a fetish out of the Constitution -- or rather, a mythologized version of it -- when they think it favors them. When the actual Constitution prevents them from, say, stripping American-born Latinos of their citizenship, well, all they want to do is overturn it.
But it's interesting that York assumes the votes aren't there. Because, as Susie pointed out the other day, every returning Democrat wants to reform the filibuster. That would mean we have 53 votes for the reform now.
And, as we pointed out several weeks ago, all that is needed on January 5, the first day of Senate business, is 51 votes in order to change the rules. As Tom Udall has been pointing out for awhile now:
And so what the Constitutional Option is about is doing rules reform in the Senate at the beginning of a Congress and the crucial thing is that at the beginning of Congress you can set rules with 51 Senators. You can end the debate and you can adopt new rules. Now is the time for rules reform.
I have a feeling a bunch of smug Republicans are going to wake up on January 6 and realize that they just got hammered by Democrats again. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.
Meanwhile, be sure to read Ezra Klein's interview with Jeff Merkley for more on all this.
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