Senate majority leader Harry Reid reiterated on Tuesday his plan to reform the rules of the Senate to weaken the filibuster and strengthen the majority party's power to move legislative debate forward. The Huffington Post reports:
"Once we complete that vital legislation, the Senate will take action to make this institution that we all love, the United States Senate, work more effectively," Reid said, calling for an end to the uncompromising legislative style that has driven hundreds of filibusters in recent years.
"We'll consider changes in the Senate rules," Reid said, although he also warned it may not happen immediately.
Among Reid's proposals, which originated with Senate liberals like Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Udall of New Mexico, are requiring senators who object to closing debate on a bill to engage in a "talking filibuster" (that is, to actually speak on the floor of the Senate) and limiting when senators can filibuster. Reid claims the changes are needed to overcome a stubborn GOP minority, which often holds up legislative debate. Republicans say they are protesting Reid's practice of not allowing amendments and unnecessarily rushing through debate.
Reid has also promised to hold a simple-majority vote on altering the filibuster rules, despite the fact that rule changes generally require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass. To do this, Reid would have to override the Senate parliamentarian. Senate institutionalists in both parties criticize this as the "nuclear option"--breaking the rules to change the rules--and Reid himself objected to a similar threat from then-majority leader Bill Frist, a Republican, in 2005.