Senators agree to Reid and McConnell’s filibuster reform measures
January 24th, 2013
09:01 PM ET
1 year ago

Senators agree to Reid and McConnell’s filibuster reform measures

(CNN) - Democrats and Republicans in the Senate overwhelmingly agreed late Thursday on language reforming filibusters, passing the measures agreed to earlier in the day by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The two leaders proposed to their caucuses earlier a list of reforms to curb the use of filibusters and streamline other procedures in order to speed up floor action. The measures required the support of each party's caucus.

Neither Democratic senators nor a GOP aide said members had voiced major issues with the proposals prior to the vote.

A filibuster is a tactic used in the Senate to delay or prevent a vote on legislation. Reid and McConnell's measure, according to one Senate aide, offered a compromise to reduce the number of filibusters while ensuring the minority party gets votes on some amendments.

The proposal allows for two paths that could be used to begin debate on legislation, avoiding filibusters designed to prevent debate from actually taking place.

In the first path, Reid would allow two amendments from both parties to be presented, with the caveat that if an amendment isn't relevant to the legislation at hand, it would be subject to a 60-vote threshold.

On measures where Reid and McConnell agree, a second path allows votes to overcome filibusters to be held the day after Reid files a procedural petition, instead of the two-day period currently in place. That change would disallow stalled votes on consensus legislation.

The new procedure also limits debate on some presidential nominations that require Senate approval.

Senate Democrats have complained that the minority Republicans deliberately overused the filibuster to block Democratic legislation.

A group of junior Senate Democrats pushed Reid to pass broad reforms - including reinstating the requirement that senators conducting a filibuster speak continuously on the floor - by using a controversial method to change the body’s rules that Republicans called the “nuclear option.” That method to change the Senate rules would require just 51 votes instead of the 67 customarily required.

Republicans, furious they might be jammed, argued the filibuster is the only leverage they have to get roll call votes on amendments that otherwise are routinely denied them by the majority Democrats.

The measure went to a vote and passed without Democrats invoking the “nuclear option.”

"No party has ever broken the rules of the Senate to change those rules. I’m glad such an irreparably damaging precedent will not be set today," McConnell said in a statement as the vote became clear. "We’ve avoided the nuclear option, and we’ve reiterated that any changes to the Standing Rules of the Senate still require 67 votes to end debate."

Republicans had said if Democrats pushed the reforms through the "nuclear option," it would have destroyed relations between the two parties and lead to massive gridlock in the chamber.

President Barack Obama issued a statement after the vote saying he hoped "today’s bipartisan agreement will pave the way for the Senate to take meaningful action in the days and weeks ahead."

"Too often over the past four years, a single senator or a handful of senators has been able to unilaterally block or delay bipartisan legislation for the sole purpose of making a political point," he said. The statement specifically identified Obama’s desire the Senate consider legislation on gun violence, immigration and the economy.

A bipartisan group of senior members, led by Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Carl Levin, D-Michigan, offered the alternative compromise that became part of Reid and McConnell's proposal.

"We are going to change the way we do business here," Reid said Wednesday. "We can do it either the easy way or the hard way but it's going to change."


Filed under: Harry Reid • Mitch McConnell • Senate
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Belseth

    "Republicans had said if Democrats pushed the reforms through the "nuclear option," it would have destroyed relations between the two parties and lead to massive gridlock in the chamber.:

    And what's the threat? Republicans in the House already hold their breath until they get their way. We already have gridlock and the Republicans already don't want to even speak to a Democrat so where's the threat??? The Republicans need to take their toys and go home and leave the government to the adults!

    January 25, 2013 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  2. Kona

    Dog and pony show. Nothing has really changed. The GOP is still going to use the filibuster to obstruct getting anything done.

    January 25, 2013 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  3. Name lynn

    reid an mitch an them republicans sound stupid, an now them democrates are fighting with them fools as well. its look like a per-school kids on the play ground.

    January 25, 2013 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  4. independant jim

    The rule should return to the old rule that required a senator to speak their objection to the bill from the floor of the house with breaks for restrooms and for meals other than that if a senator is serious about their objection than they need to be on the floor speaking about the bill and their objection to it.... todays senators are to busy running family businesses their portfolio or their fundraising .. McConnell had to filibuster his own legislation last year ..he offered the legislation hoping the dems would turn it down and he could go home and say he supports seniors ..when the dems said OK he changed his mind and did not want to look like he supported seniors

    January 25, 2013 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  5. bob chalmers

    Senator Reid caved in. He said the 60 vote rule would be eliminated but it sohnds no different than before. I think it's time for a new majority leader that stands be hind what he has said. Reid is a wimp that lets republicans push hin arround too much. We need someone that will fight for our principals/

    January 25, 2013 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  6. bob chalmers

    it's also time to pass another amendant that would get rid of the electoral college. It's unnessairy and because of it there are only about 12 states out of 50 that really elect a president. The popular vote is what is fair and righr.

    January 25, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  7. Dan

    Just make the party that filibusters have to talk endlessly in order to do so - like it used to be done. They used to read the phone book, etc,. to accomplish a filibuster. This will be picked up by the news outlets, and then there will be a political price to pay. And maybe, on SOME bills, that price will be worth it, but most of the time it won't. This will alow the minority party to retain the ability to have some minor control over what they TRULY believe is inappropriate legislation, but won't allow them to use it just to obstruct, as the Republicans have for the last four years.

    January 25, 2013 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  8. Tyler durden

    What most democrats don't get is that someday they won't have the majority, then the crying for more fillabusters will begin ...........wahhhhhhhhhhh

    January 25, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  9. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    About time ,but the dems should have made the gop do it the hard way ,its not like the gop isn't already abusing the filibuster???*?

    January 25, 2013 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  10. Sam

    Wow, the Senate has to have a rule where they can block or stop a bill. This is one reason we don't get much work done anymore The Republicans have used it recently over 400 times. The Senate might as well close down now.

    January 25, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  11. Sane Person

    The Republicans are only interested in protecting the filibuster when they are the minority party. You better believe they will (and have in the past) sing a very different tune when the roles are reversed.

    January 25, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  12. Keller

    When will democrats learn that you can not negotiate with the GOP. They should have went with the "nuclear" option so that maybe we can actually get something done in congress.

    January 25, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  13. Basher

    Senator Reid will not abide by the rules regardless, that is a given.

    January 25, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  14. AaronT3

    Waste of the time, tax payers dollars, and the paper it's written on. Ried Failed!

    January 25, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  15. some guy in New Hampshire

    Weak tea. Who cares which party is up or down? If you want to filibuster, you and your gang get up and talk to hold the floor. Make your case to the public in that forum and let the chips fall.

    January 25, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  16. Oneslydragon

    Now, CNN, question... WT# are you hiding this story? This is major news, front page stuff and you bury it!!!

    The democrats caved to GOP on filibuster reform. Now we must endure 2 more years of the GOP laughing at America.

    January 25, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  17. Oneslydragon

    "No party has ever broken the rules of the Senate to change those rules. I’m glad such an irreparably damaging precedent will not be set today," McConnell said in a statement as the vote became clear. "We’ve avoided the nuclear option, and we’ve reiterated that any changes to the Standing Rules of the Senate still require 67 votes to end debate."

    Under his breath he is saying waint.... hold on a second, you ready?

    SUCKERS!!!!!!!

    January 25, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    Reid is setting up the Senate to hand over bad bills to Obama, on a silver platter.

    January 25, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  19. Oneslydragon

    "Senate Democrats have complained that the minority Republicans deliberately overused the filibuster to block Democratic legislation. "

    No....Wrong Bozo....I mean Ted....

    The American Public is fed up with the way Dems and the GOP use the filibuster,

    Let's go back to the days of having to talk.

    These senators have just gotten LAZY!!!!! The parties will not go against one of their own, even it obviously that individual or small group is dead wrong. If you want to filibuster, earn the delay, and put some real effort behind it.

    January 25, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  20. T

    ............What ever happened to the simple majority rule?

    January 25, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
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