Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Progress!

TPM has the deets on Tom Udall (D-NM's) filibuster reform proposal. The punchline:
  • The "motion to proceed"—a vote on whether or not to begin debate on a bill—is no longer subject to filibuster.
  • A ban on anonymous holds.
  • If a cloture vote fails, the filibuster begins immediately. If no one holds the floor, then cloture is invoked automatically.
  • Post-cloture debate on nominees is limited to 2 hours.
  • After cloture is invoked, the minority is given the opportunity to offer three amendments, with one hour of debate per amendment.
Essentially, the Senate will cease to be a body where individual Senators may tie up some or all Senate business. Slowing down debate will require a minority vocal and passionate enough to keep the filibuster going. Ideas that have been neglected:
  • Shortening or eliminating the time between filing for cloture and the cloture vote (currently 30 hours or so).
  • Forcing the filibustering side to round up 40 "keep filibustering" votes (currently, the majority must round up 60 "stop filibustering" votes). Ignoring this distinction seems like at least a modest problem.
    The obvious bargaining chips here are to allow the minority to offer more amendments in the post-cloture period, and to tweak the burden on the filibustering minority in some direction.

    Exciting stuff!
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