Republican senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, is accusing Democrat Harry Reid, the majority leader, of wanting to "break the rules to change the rules." This is part a "systematic effort to marginalize the minority," according to McConnell.
"We’ve been having a spirited discussion this week over the plans of the Democratic majority to 'break the rules to change the rules,'" McConnell said of Reid this morning on the Senate floor. "That’s how my friend from Nevada repeatedly described it when Republicans considered doing something similar several years ago, but never did. At the end of the following year, my friend was poised to become Senate majority leader. With the experience of serving in the minority in his mind, my friend made a commitment to 'practice the Golden Rule’ by running 'the Senate with respect for the rules and for the minority rights the rules protect.'"
McConnell says that Reid, now the leader of the majority, has changed his ways. "Unfortunately, [Reid] has repudiated that clear commitment. Unfortunately, he no longer recognizes—as Senator Byrd did, by the way—that 'the Senate was not established to be efficient,’ but ‘to make sure that minorities are protected. Then, my friend recognized 'that is what the Senate is all about.' Now, he says, the primary consideration is 'efficiency.'
"He seeks to minimize concerns about this majoritarian power-grab by characterizing the effect as 'tiny,' as a 'minor change,' as changing Senate Rules just 'a little bit.'"
McConnell accused Reid's actions of being "self-serving," and instead urged the Senate majority leader to act in a "bipartisan" fashion.
"Reid swore up and down when he was minority leader that even if he was majority leader he’d never break the rules to change the rules," says a top Republican aide on the Hill. "Yet that’s precisely what he’s proposing to do when the Senate reconvenes in January. The idea that a party leader could get away with breaking his word like this is breathtaking."
Yet, aside from urging Reid to change his mind, Republicans in the Senate might not be able to weaken Reid's power grab.
UPDATE: President Obama sides with Reid, according to the Huffington Post:
"The President has said many times that the American people are demanding action," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "They want to see progress, not partisan delay games. That hasn't changed, and the President supports Senator Reid's efforts to reform the filibuster process."