Saturday, December 29, 2012

All Current Filibuster Reform Proposals Are Small

We've got two Senate procedural reform proposals under heavy discussion these days -- the "talking filibuster" proposal from younger reformers like Merkley and Udall, and something else from McCain and Levin. As far as I can tell, neither proposal would've broken Dixiecrat filibusters of civil rights legislation, Republican filibusters of health care reform, or future Republican filibusters of climate change. Merkley's people think their proposal will help with smaller stuff here and there, and maybe it will. But it looks like Republicans can still block anything with an unending talking filibuster manned by Senators from conservative states who fear primaries more than general elections, and therefore are controlled by Fox News (there are at least 15 of these guys). Jonathan Bernstein has convincingly argued that that is the most likely outcome.

Because of this, I'm more focused on the long-term consequences for the Senate. Whatever happens this time around, I hope it eases the path to some kind of massive filibuster reform in the years to come. 
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