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Senator Harry Reid wants to reform the filibuster rule that won't get rid of it, but will actually make it a real rule again. McConnell is calling it a massive power grab and says he's defending minority rights.
"The last thing on my list would have been to throw a bomb into the Senate, have it blow up, and have everybody mad as heck," McConnell told reporters after he and Reid sparred over the issue in the Senate chamber. "I'm just perplexed at the judgement on display here."
But the move comes from Democrats who have become increasingly frustrated with the GOP, which even has stalled bills that have near unanimous support by forcing the 60-vote "cloture" votes at every step in the process of passing a bill on the floor.
Reid wants to ban filibusters at the start of debates and when the Senate appoints members to work out differing legislation with the House, but preserve them in other situations. He also wants to require senators to actually stand and speak during a filibuster -- the way they used to, and as was seen in the movie "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington."
Senator Mitch McConnell once was a big proponent of a plan to outright end the filibuster back in 2005, because out of over two hundred Republican judges that were nominated, a handful were blocked by Democrats.
Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell said yesterday that Republicans have enough votes to invoke the “nuclear option” to limit Democrats’ ability to stall by filibuster consideration of President Bush’s nominees for federal appeals courts. “I never announce my whip count.
"But I’m telling you, there’s no doubt in my mind — and I’m a pretty good counter of votes — that we have the votes we need,” the Kentucky Republican said. “And that step will be taken sometime in the near future at the determination of the majority leader.”
Ezra Klein writes this about McConnell's biggest whoppers about the filibuster:
As Senate whip, McConnell was a key player in the GOP’s 2005 effort to change the filibuster rules using — you guessed it — 51 votes. As he said at the time, “This is not the first time a minority of Senators has upset a Senate tradition or practice, and the current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done–use its constitutional authority under article I, section 5, to reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote.”
Republicans have tarnished and destroyed the use of the filibuster to block so much that it has forced Harry Reid to take action. Bill Frist and McConnell were being pushed by the James Dobson crowd who were fuming that a few sicko judges weren't confirmed. Here's an old roundup I did back in 2005 about the compromise that occurred over it. (Please excuse the weird fonts.)