Trying to fully grasp the arcane minutiae of the Senate's new filibuster rules (the agreement between Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was subsequently accepted by party caucuses) is along the lines of grasping any arcane minutiae in the Senate. The general consensus in a more understandable way is that this will "streamline" the Senate and allow appointments to go through much easier, and speed up certain bills that are being blocked, being able to pass in two days rather than nine. But it doesn't do much for changing the current status of the filibuster.
"Does it help a little bit? Anything helps around here," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) told reporters of the plan from party leaders. "It still will provide a system where people can filibuster and they don't even have to come here." Mr. Harkin explained the ramifications of all this --
"I said to President Obama back in August ... and I said to him the night before the election, I said to him, 'Look, if you get reelected, if we don't do something significant about filibuster reform, you might as well take a four-year vacation. This is not significant."
In the end, word was that because Harry Reid (D-NV) is an "institutionalist," he was reticent to push through a rule change based purely on party-line vote. While that's understandable up to a point -- the "point" including that Sen. Read had been insisting he'd be far more aggressive on the issue -- the larger problem with not making a meaningful change centers around this sentence for the Washington Post: "Republicans warned that such a move by Reid, which they called a 'nuclear option,' would have poisoned the well for bipartisan talks on pending budget and deficit legislation."
"The well for bipartisan talks" was poisoned long ago. Four years ago, almost to the day, in fact. That's when Mitch McConnell (R-KY) met secretly with other Republican leaders on the evening of President Obama's first Inauguration and decided to do everything they could to block every proposal he made.
So much for an unpoisoned bipartisan well.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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