Tag Archives: Senate

10 things you need to know today: January 2, 2014

Bill swears in Bill.

Bill swears in Bill. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Week

Militants attack Somali hotel, de Blasio is sworn in as mayor, and more

1. Attack on Somali hotel leaves at least six dead
Two car bombs and an attack by armed militants left six people dead and several more wounded at the Jazeera hotel in Mogadishu. Police say they were able to stop the assailants from entering the hotel, which is often used by foreign visitors and government officials. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. New NYC Mayor de Blasio vows to tackle income inequality
New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, took office vowing to continue the fight against income inequality. “That mission – our march towards a fairer, more just, more progressive place, our march to keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation – it begins today,” he said after being sworn into office Wednesday by former President Bill Clinton. [Christian Science Monitor]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. Harry Reid promises vote on long-term unemployment benefits
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Senate will vote on a bill that aims to extend long-term unemployment benefits when the holiday recess ends on Jan. 6. Reid expressed optimism that the bill will pass the Senate with bipartisan support, but declined to speculate whether he thought the legislation would make it through the House. [FOX]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. Massive fire breaks out in Minneapolis
A huge fire broke out in south Minneapolis, destroying a 10-unit apartment building and injuring at least 14 people. Thick gray smoke could be seen rising from the building, which also housed a small grocery store. It took 50 firefighters to quell the blaze in the freezing weather. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. U.N. releases 2013 Iraq death toll number
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released its estimate for the total number of civilian casualties in Iraq in 2013. According to the U.N., 7,818 people were killed and 17,981 were injured. It was the most dangerous year since 2008, when 6,787 died and 20,178 were injured. [CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. Hawaii Senate primary causing tension among Democrats
A bitter feud is diving Democrats in Hawaii between those who support Sen. Brian Schatz, the politician appointed to fill the late Daniel Inouye’s seat, and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Inouye’s protegee. Inouye’s deathbed wish was that Hanabusa be chosen to succeed him, but the governor appointed Schatz instead. The primary is scheduled for August 9. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. Historic document tied to American Independence discovered
It had been misfiled in a museum’s attic for more than four decades, but an archivist at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Manhattan found a letter from the Continental Congress after going through some old documents that were to be discarded. The letter was a draft of a plea for reconciliation sent to Britain in 1775. Analysts say the draft was written by Robert R. Livingston, a New Yorker who helped draft the Declaration of Independence a year later. The document is expected to be auctioned off later this month. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. Kim Jong Un defends uncle’s execution
In a New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un defended the decision to have his uncle executed in December. The uncle, Jang Song Thaek, helped Kim rise to power, but Kim said the purge has brought greater unity to the country. Kim accused his uncle of trying to overthrow the government. [CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. Actor James Avery dies
Actor James Avery died from complications of open heart surgery. Best known for playing Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Avery was 68. He also appeared in Dr. Dolittle 2 and License to Drive. [ABC]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. Gay couple weds during the Rose Parade
Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair became the first same-sex couple to get married at the Rose Parade. The pair was standing atop a giant wedding cake float when they exchanged “I dos.” It was the first gay wedding at the Rose Parade. [CBS]

4 Comments

Filed under 10 things you need to know today

Senators Admit Congress Really Sucked In 2013

Joint Session of Congress

The Huffington Post

[...]

Below are the full reactions of senators, lightly edited for clarity:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

“That’s a good question. We were not attacked, uh, to the extent that we were on 9/11.

“We showed a level of dysfunction that has seldom been reached. Maybe the only other time was before the union dissolved. The good things are that it could have been worse. The final story on 2013 for me is it could have been worse.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

“What good happened? A lot of the things Obama wanted to get done didn’t get done, like he wanted to avoid sequestration, which would have put one and two-tenths trillion [dollars] back into spending.

“That’s very positive. We got 17.2 trillion in debt, and you don’t want to add another one trillion and two-tenths to it.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)

“Well, the government isn’t completely closed, is it? What good happened this year? I only have three years left, that’s what happened that’s good.”

(Why was it so bad?) “That’s all about leadership. If you have good leadership, you have good progress. If you don’t, you don’t. And that’s not a partisan statement — that’s both sides.”

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.)

“Oh, man. That’s the toughest question I’ve had all year.

“It is surprisingly hard. This is the most frustrating year of any of my years in the Congress — House or Senate — because so few major issues went addressed, starting with the fiscal situation, and then bumping along through all the crises and so forth. What good happened this year? The best thing that happened this year is that we finally got word late last night [Dec. 19] that we’re going to be done. I think we all believe that it can’t get worse than this year, so maybe next year will be better.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

“That’s a really, uh … you know, look, from my perspective, not a great deal. I mean our foreign policy, our credibility around the world is continuing to shatter. Look at Syria. I can’t think of a lot of good, I really cannot. I have to tell you, this year in many ways for me has been one of the most productive. But as I leave here and look at just overall what’s actually happened, it’s not been a good year for the United States, so it’s hard for me to think of much. I’m sorry. I’m usually very upbeat and optimistic. I’m sorry.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), walking with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)

Rubio: “What good happened this year? Well, I’ll get back to you.”
Casey: “We got a budget bill!”
Rubio, yelling as elevator doors close: “We’re still America — that’s what’s good!”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

“We finally got a semblance of a budget. We had the student loans — try to get some stability to that, lower interest rates. And we were able to drive both sides further apart. I don’t know if that’s good, but that’s what happened. That’s facts.

“With [Republican Sen.] Susan Collins, we were able to put a bipartisan group together. We got the governors caucus started, which is really bipartisan, so we’ve got to see if we can carry that and hopefully get a little better direction to get things accomplished. It’s gonna happen if you have relationships, so you have to work on that.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

“We elevated the stories of survivors of sexual assault to make it a national debate and make sure victims’ voices are heard. It was one of my highest priorities.

“I have lots of personal successes, but those are all for [sons] Theo and Henry. I think that’s it.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), walking with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Whitehouse: “We cleared the filibuster away from nominees …”
Wicker: “We were not attacked by foreign governments.”
Whitehouse: “The economy continued to improve.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

“There are a lot of good things. You know, we’re all blessed. This country’s blessed. We’re still standing. There’s a lot of things where people said the sky is falling, but it hasn’t fell.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

“What good happened this year? [Chuckle, pause, asks if that means with his family or the Senate.] A good report from the president’s review committee on the NSA.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)

“Give Lizzie, my press secretary, a call, and we can set something up.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)

“My son did great in soccer and cross country. When you said good, I immediately thought of home, not Washington, D.C.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

“You know I think, uh, I’m having trouble trying to come up with something good. I think it’s good that we have exposed the surveillance of Americans without a warrant, and we’re going to try to do something about it. It seems like there’s some consensus in that direction.”

[It's pointed out that his example is actually rather negative.] “I tried to turn it into a positive. You know, really, we abandoned the sequester caps, and really, I go home disappointed with the year.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

“I think that the budget thing was good. I think that will avert another shutdown. I can’t think of a hell of a lot of things besides that, to be honest with you. The observers say it’s the least productive Congress in history, and I don’t disagree with that. We did some good stuff on that defense bill. Did some good stuff on that. I’m digging for the pony here.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

Murphy: “The Red Sox won the World Series.”
Booker: “That’s painful. That’s bad!”
Murphy: “Cory Booker got elected to the United States Senate.”

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)

“What good? [Chuckle] Well, you really threw me for a loop. Oh, God. We did pass some bills — the WRDA [Water Resources Development Act] bill. There’s a whole series of bills that people worked on — the compounding [pharmacies] bill — they worked pretty hard on. These are bills that did not make the front page or even the first five pages, but they’ve made a big impact to the folks that really care about them. In fact, I even have a list of eight or nine of them, but they really haven’t attracted any attention. On those bills — they were bipartisan — we worked hard, mostly on the HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] Committee.

“You know, everybody talks, ‘Where’s the farm bill? Why didn’t we get all of the high-profile stuff?’ — and then turning the Senate into the House, which is a bad thing, and our response. Everybody focuses on that. But I think there’s a reservoir of commitment here, on tax reform, on the tax extender package, and other things that really count. Foreign policy is a big one. I just think you have to understand that there are two very different opinions and philosophies here on the part of Republicans and Democrats, but we can occasionally build a bridge. And we’ll keep doing it in spite of 2014, which happens to be an even-numbered year, and you know what happens then.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

“What good happened this year? Well, I think a lot of Senate relationships were strained by what happened late in the year, but I think they’re going to survive. In the Senate, those relationships and friendships matter because you only have 99 colleagues. And, uh, uh, most of the good things that happened for me were with my family and friends, and while people had their challenges generally, this was a good year for my family and for most of the people I know.”

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)

“I had a lot of good experiences with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, in getting amendments, working together on amendments and bills, and getting them passed by the Senate. I think the Senate took on a lot of tough issues. If you look at what the Senate passed, it was a number of big issues, from budget to immigration, and gun control was up, and I think the list goes on and on.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)

“I think we’re getting close on the farm bill. Obviously passing a budget. I think ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act] was a good outcome, immigration reform. I think as we focus on all the negative, there were some pretty amazing things. I don’t think anyone felt we were going to do comprehensive immigration reform. ENDA had been hanging around for a long time. And I think the budget, as I understand, is the first time since 1986 that a divided Congress has produced a budget. I tend to look at the good side of things. There was plenty bad, though.”

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)

“We passed a budget for the first time in four years. … That’s not a bad thing. We got a defense authorization. A lot of appointments done. The economy, I think the economy, we saw the report yesterday — 4.1 percent GDP — better than people expected. Economy’s better, retail sales are up, consumer confidence is up, and deficit is down. That’s good news.”

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)

“Number one, getting the first budget in four years. And I don’t know if you were aware, but I just learned this is the first budget out of a divided Congress, with the House [under a] different [party], since 1986. I think that’s significant. It wasn’t the most picturesque process in the world, but it was done though bipartisan negotiation. That’s a big deal. That’s a very big deal. Getting the defense bill done, I feel positive. We had some good bipartisan work on immigration. We had some good bipartisan work on student loans. So there were some bright spots. Not a very productive year — I’m not going to argue that.

“I think this whole business with the rules, we need to have some continued discussions. It’s trying to find the right balance between respecting minority rights and not facilitating obstruction.”

[He's asked whether he's still glad he ran for the Senate last year.] “Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. You’re dealing with public policy at the highest level, and for a person like myself who’s curious, likes public policy and likes to try to fix things, it’s a great place to be. I’ve had some very frustrating moments. The shutdown, the vote on [gun] background checks was a downer, but by and large, I feel pretty good.”

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.)

“I think a number of things. We’re right on the verge of getting the farm bill done, we’re piecing that together. We got the WRDA [Water Resources Development Act] bill done. So really a lot of things have gotten done when you take away the budget issues. That’s really where we, you know, where we have a problem agreeing — in the amount of money we’re going to spend in the future and increase taxes, increase revenue to get those dollars. That’s really where the concern is at.

“I’d like to have seen a lot more things voted on. I don’t have any problems at all casting votes. I think the amendment process needs to be fixed, [so] members can offer amendments. That’s how you avoid what happened with the military pay issue that we’ve got, how things like that are allowed to go forward. That doesn’t happen if everybody’s consulted.”

1 Comment

Filed under United States Congress

Archconservative Jim Inhofe Has Change Of Heart About Democrats

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)

The Huffington Post

One of the most partisan Republicans in the Senate, Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe, said Sunday that his “attitude” toward Senate Democrats has changed as a result of the outpouring of sympathy he received from colleagues after the death of his son. Perry Inhofe, 52, was killed in a plane crash in November.

“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I seem to have gotten more — well at least as many, maybe more — communications from some of my Democrat friends,” Inhofe told host David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I’m a pretty partisan Republican.”

In the wake of his personal tragedy, Inhofe said, “all of a sudden the old barriers that were there — the old differences, those things that keep us apart — just disappear. It’s not just a recognition that I know how much more important this is, but they do, too. And they look out. And they realize that you’ve lost someone. And that brings us closer together.”

During three terms in the Senate, Inhofe has established a reputation as a take-no-prisoners political brawler, and as a legislator whose ideology is both fiscally and socially to the right of many in his party. An outspoken skeptic of the scientific evidence for man-made climate change, Inhofe has butted heads on the Senate floor over the issue with nearly every member of the Democratic leadership.

When news of his son’s death reached Washington, however, politics were quickly set aside. And even though Inhofe is a legendary thorn in the side of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the loss of Inhofe’s son served to underscore for him the things that he and Reid have in common.

“Harry and I … disagree on all this stuff, this political stuff. But we were both married the same year, in 1959. And we’ve both had some illnesses. So yeah, I would say that when something like this happens, you get closer together. The differences are still there. … But your attitude changes,” said Inhofe.

Like Inhofe, Reid is an unapologetic partisan. But in a speech Reid gave on the Senate floor shortly after Perry Inhofe’s death, the Majority Leader described the genuine friendship he’s formed with the Oklahoma Republican. “I really care a lot about Jim Inhofe, and he and I are unquestionably friends,” Reid told the assembled senators. “We may not agree on all political issues, but we agree that we’re friends. I’ve helped him when I could, and he’s helped me when he can.”

As friends, Reid said, he and Inhofe “put all the disagreements to one side and look at each other for what we are, outside of our politics.”

On Sunday, Inhofe suggested that his change of heart is likely to extend beyond personal dynamics to his work in the Senate. “I can’t help but think when I’m confronting someone on something in which we disagree, I’ll know how they responded to my loss. And how we got closer. And it’ll stay that way,” he said.

C-Span Video of Sen. Reid offering condolences to Sen. Inhofe

1 Comment

Filed under U.S. Politics

There was nothing high-minded about the budget deal

Smiles before the debt storm.

Smiles before the debt storm. Photo: (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

The WeekTaegan Goddard

Many recent articles have trumpeted the “bipartisan breakthrough” that led to a federal budget deal. Don’t believe any of them. Partisan warfare is very much alive.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a key broker of the budget deal, signaled that a standoff over the debt ceiling is coming soon.

Said Ryan: “We, as a caucus, along with our Senate counterparts, are going to meet and discuss what it is we want to get out of the debt limit. We don’t want ‘nothing’ out of the debt limit. We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight.”

The comments show how broken our legislative system has become. Just days ago, Ryan agreed to a budget deal that increases the federal debt — and hailed it in a series of interviews — but now he won’t agree to raise the debt ceiling mandated by the very same budget deal.

In the last fiscal standoff in October, the Obama administration held firm and refused to negotiate over the debt ceiling. Expect the same reaction this time.

Of course, the real reason there was a budget deal is that Republicans felt it was politically advantageous. With the White House on the defensive for nearly two months over the ObamaCare implementation, Republicans don’t want to do anything to distract from their woes.

Newt Gingrich said it best: “I think this is mediocre policy and brilliant politics. It doesn’t get them what they want on policy terms, but it strips away the danger that people will notice anything but ObamaCare. And the longer the country watches ObamaCare, the more likely the Democrats are to lose the Senate.”

He’s right. The budget deal probably is good politics — at least in the very short term.

So as both sides move the country to the edge of the fiscal brink early next year, remember it’s all about politics. But will the politics still be good for either side?

3 Comments

Filed under Budget Deficit

McConnell lashes out: Tea Party groups ‘ruining’ GOP

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the weekly policy lunch of the Republican caucus on Nov. 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C. WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces Tea Party backlash in his coming re-election efforts for 2014.  This should be interesting in light of his most recent statement…

MSNBC

Mitch McConnell ripped tea party-aligned forces like the Senate Conservatives Fund in a recent interview, saying they are “ruining” the Republican brand.

It is the Senate Minority Leader’s latest attempt to stand up to extremists in his party amidst a tough reelection bid that’s left him fielding attacks from the left and right, with Democrats criticizing his role in allowing a government shutdown and his Republican challenger criticizing his role in ending it.

In an interview published on Friday, McConnell chided the most far-right wing members of his party—without specifically naming the tea party —and blamed them for the government shutdown in October.

“There were people who were basically afraid of [conservatives], frankly,” McConnell told theWashington Examiner. “It’s time for people to stand up to this sort of thing.”

In standing up to the tea party, McConnell is walking a tight-rope: he doesn’t want to anger the far-right, grassroots Republicans who have long made up his base, but he does want to stop the tea-party led insurgency that has dragged Republican approval ratings down to historic lowsshut the government down for 16-days, and caused a GOP civil war.

“To have the kind of year we ought to have in 2014, we have to have electable candidates on November ballots in every state—people that don’t scare the general electorate and can actually win, because winners make policy and losers go home,” McConnell told the Washington Examiner. “We can’t just turn the other cheek and hope for the best. It didn’t work in 2010 and 2012 so we’re going to try something different in 2014.”

McConnell kept quiet for the first few years of the group’s existence once he saw its power in Kentucky (a McConnell-approved candidate lost to tea party darling Sen. Rand Paul in a race to be Kentucky’s junior senator), courting tea party forces and even bringing Paul’s 2010 campaign manager to run his 2014 bid.

His battle with the tea party coincides with his 2014 bid, where he’s facing challenges on both sides—from a formidable Democrat, former Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan-Grimes, and a tea party challenger, Matt Bevin. McConnell trumps Bevin in polls, but he and Grimes are neck and neck.

It’s perhaps why McConnell’s gloves came off when he discussed the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that aims to boot the Senate’s seasoned Republicans, including McConnell, in favor of farther right conservatives like his challenger from the right, Bevin.

“The Senate Conservatives Fund is giving conservatism a bad name. They’re participating in ruining the [Republican] brand,” McConnell said. “What they do is mislead their donors into believing the reason that we can’t get as good an outcome as we’d like to get is not because of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, but because Republicans are insufficiently committed to the cause — which is utter nonsense.”

7 Comments

Filed under Senate Republicans, Tea Party Agenda

Saturday Blog Roundup 11-30-2013

Black Friday Questions.

Church Of England Proposes Gay Marriage ‘Blessings’

Mitt Romney’s Son Helped Rescue Four People After Car Crash

After years on the sidelines, New York’s liberals retaking control

Obama to issue a new statement of U.S. national security strategy

Syrian chemical arms ‘to be destroyed on US Navy ship’ – BBC News

Dems should not hesitate to further streamline the Senate rulebook

President Obama Visits Immigration Advocates Fasting For Reform

Conservatives live in a different reality from us, ‘history book’ edition

Former KKK Leader And His Mother Indicted After Alabama Cross Burning

 

5 Comments

Filed under Blog Roundup

Jon Stewart mocks Mitch McConnell’s warning to Democrats: Someday you will want to be obstructionist a*sholes

Jon Stewart 112113 [YouTube]

The Raw Story

Daily Show host Jon Stewart poked fun at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) warning to Democrats that ending the long-standing abuse of the filibuster by invoking what pundits insist on calling the “nuclear option” would come back to haunt them.

“Mark my words,” Stewart boomed on Thursday. “One day you Democrats will want to be obstructionist a*sholes making a mockery of our system of government. And who’ll be laughing then? Turtle Man.”

Stewart also mocked media coverage of Senate Democrats’ move to have non-Supreme Court nominations and other procedural matters be decided by a simple majority, rather than by having to get at least 60 votes to pass.

“So deciding to allow majority rules to incrementally increase governmental efficiency and presidential appointments is so unthinkably extreme that it’s the ‘nuclear option’?” Stewart asked. “It’s the Hiroshima of voting.”

Watch Stewart’s take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) going “nuclear,” as posted online on Thursday, below.

2 Comments

Filed under Jon Stewart, Senate Filibuster

By the way: McConnell: For going nuclear before he was against it

Daily Kos

Harry Reid is having a fun day:

By filibustering 10 qualified judicial nominees in only 16 months, our Democratic colleagues have broken this unwritten rule. This is not the first time a minority of senators has upset a Senate tradition or practice and the current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done: use it’s constitutional authority under Article 1, section 5 to reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote.

In two sentences 2005 McConnell destroys all of 2013 McConnell’s arguments. Just like that. What a difference a Democratic president makes.

1 Comment

Filed under Mitch McConnell

The rules have changed: Reid pulls trigger on nuclear option

Attribution: Center for Digital Discourse and Culture

For the past few years, Senator Harry Reid has been reluctant to use the “Nuclear Option” to break  the current Senate “filibuster” rules  and return the filibuster back to a “simple majority” rule.  Kudos to Sen. Reid.

Daily Kos

Kaboom! Republicans dared Harry Reid to do it, and he just did, finally. The Senate has voted to change the filibuster rules, 52-48. Democrats Carl Levin, Joe Manchin, Mark Pryor voted against changing the rule.

The new rule that will allow just a simple majority vote for all nominees except for the Supreme Court. For the remainder of this Congress, President Obama’s nominees will only need 51 votes to be appointed. What that means immediately is that, while the Republicans continue to play games to delay action on the Defense Authorization, the nominations of Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard, and Roberts Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit can move forward. So can the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt to the federal housing agency. In other words, the Senate can start functioning again. At least on nominations.

This will likely just further enrage Republicans, making them even more obnoxious and obstructionist. So next stop, ending the filibuster on legislation. That will probably happen at the beginning of the next Congress, January, 2015.

 

8 Comments

Filed under Filibuster, Sen. Harry Reid

Three reasons filibuster reform might actually happen today

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Harry Reid – (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

This must be done soon.  Preferably, today.  Enough is enough from the Teapublican filibusters in the senate.

The Washington Post – Wonkblog

Filibuster reform might actually happen this time. In fact, it might happen today.

Harry Reid is poised to end the filibuster against executive-branch appointments and judicial nominations. Could Democrats back out at the last minute, as they have so many times before? Absolutely. But there’ve been three big changes in Senate Democrats’ outlook since the last time filibuster reform failed.

1. Filibuster reform is just another word for nothing left to lose. Back in January, the best arguments against filibuster reform had nothing to do with filibuster reform. They had to do with the rest of the Democrats’ agenda.

“Speaker John Boehner said the House wouldn’t consider legislation from a post-filibuster reform Senate. It’s very likely that a real filibuster reform fight would’ve destroyed the Democrats’ agenda in the coming months — think immigration and gun control.”

But gun control died in the Senate. And it turned out that Boehner refused to consider the Senate’s immigration legislation regardless of the filibuster’s status. Now, with President Obama’s political capital at a nadir, it’s clear that there’s no second-term agenda to protect in the near future, and they’re may not even be a Democratic Senate majority after 2014.

So in pure “getting-things-done” terms, Democrats are faced with a choice: keep the filibuster and get nothing done. Change the filibuster and get nothing done aside from staffing the federal government and filling a huge number of judicial vacancies with lifetime appointments.

2. Democrats believe Republicans will shred the filibuster as soon as they get a chance. The main reason filibuster reform typically fails is that the majority party is scared of what will happen when the minority party gets into power. But Senate Democrats just watched Republicans mount a suicide mission to shut down the government. Their confidence that Republicans will treat the upper chamber’s rules with reverence is low, to say the least.

This has led to some fatalistic thinking about filibuster reform: If Republicans are going to blow the filibuster up anyway, Democrats might as well take the first step and get some judges out of the deal.

3. Senate Democrats feel betrayed by Republicans. It’s hard to overstate the pride senior Senate Democrats took in cutting their January deal with Senate Republicans. That kind of good-faith dealmaking, they said, was exactly how the Senate is supposed to work. Some even argued it was a sign that immigration reform, gun control, and other top Democratic initiatives might pass.

But then Republicans filibustered more judges and executive-branch nominees. And the pride top Democrats took in their deal to avert filibuster reform has turned to anger that Republicans made them look like trusting fools. “Just talked to at least 10 Senate Dems about filibuster reform, including some who previously opposed it,” tweets the Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery. “Just one opposes now.”

3 Comments

Filed under Senate Filibuster, United States Senate