(Update: Senators Reid and McConnell have agreed to postpone action on the filibuster until later this month. This not only gives us some time but makes it more imperative that we keep up the pressure. McConnell is a shrewd negotiator; he is also a snake. Reid and McConnell reached a gentlemen’s agreement on the filibuster in 2011 but McConnell did not keep his end of the deal. Remind Reid of this again and again and let him know we want reform.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who sounded a few weeks ago as though he was ready to do something about Congressional gridlock at least in his own domain, now appears to be wavering. A caller to the Stephanie Miller Show said he had spoken to Reid’s office this morning and was told that the Senator was not sure about bringing any of the suggested filibuster reform measures to the floor for a vote. The caller said he had the impression that more input from the public might make the difference in Reid’s decision.
I attempted to verify this but was repeatedly cut off when I opted to speak to a legislative aid. Apparently the phone lines are overloaded. I was however, able to leave a phone message urging an attempt to change the system.
Several reforms have been suggested by members of the Senate to stop the almost automatic requirement of 60 votes to even discuss let alone pass any legislation. Republicans have used the so-called “silent” filibuster to stop progress on hundreds of bills over the last four years. Doing this means that just the threat of an actual filibuster can stop even a floor debate of a proposed law. The simplest of these reforms would require a Senator to take the floor and actually conduct a filibuster ala Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This would mandate actual effort as well as putting the obstruction on public display.
If Senator Reid needs more input, let’s give it to him. There are only a few hours to act as any changes to Senate rules must be done in the opening hours of a new session. Senator Reid’s Washington office number is 202-224-3542 and option 2 will take you to voice mail. Option 1 leads to dead silence and ultimately a disconnect. He can be emailed from a page on his website at http://www.reid.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm. You can also contact your own Senator, if unlike me, you are fortunate enough to have a reasonable Democratic one.