Senate Aides: 'No Chance' Filibuster Rules Will Be Challenged

I think protecting the Senate filibuster rules is a sign of weakness. It's refusing to allow the legislative positions of each party rise and fall on their merits. Instead, we have elaborately staged charades where the opposition parties pretend to vote for or against legislation, mostly out of concern for their own reelections.

Yes, I understand that the filibuster has been a useful tool to block egregious legislation. But as it presently exists, it's also badly abused. It's disappointing that the Senate leadership lacks the political courage to fix this:

Before the week is done, one of the longest single "days" in the history of the Senate is expected to finally come to an end.

Amid a long-running dispute over decades-old filibuster rules, Senate leaders have used a parliamentary trick to leave the chamber in a state of suspended animation - in reality adjourned since Jan. 5 but officially considered in a long recess that's part of the same individual legislative day.

This nearly three-week break has taken place in large part so leadership could hold private negotiations to consider how to deal with a group of Democrats agitating to shake up the foundation of the world's most deliberative body, right down to challenging the filibuster.

To the dismay of a younger crop of Democrats and some outside liberal activists, there is no chance that rules surrounding the filibuster will be challenged, senior aides on both sides of the aisle say, because party leaders want to protect the right of the Senate's minority party to sometimes force a supermajority of 60 votes to approve legislation.

Instead, rank-and-file lawmakers will receive pitches from Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who have been negotiating more limited changes, such as with "secret holds" that allow an anonymous senator to slow legislation. In addition, some modifications could be made to the way confirmations are handled for agency nominees who do not have direct roles in policymaking.


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