It is being reported today that Harry Reid is demanding major Senate procedural concessions from minority Republicans designed to ensure simple majority passage of highly controversial legislation traditionally vulnerable to being blocked or delayed by the filibuster.
The Hill reports:
A coalition of liberal groups met at the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA) shortly after Obama won reelection to set strategy for advancing his second-term agenda. One of the primary goals emerging from the meeting was enacting filibuster reform. …
[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid has begun to show signs of impatience with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), with whom he has been negotiating for weeks. He said Tuesday that he and McConnell have made progress, but added, “[W]e’ve got a long way to go.”
The Nevada Democrat said he would give Republicans another 24 to 36 hours to agree to filibuster reform and then trigger the so-called nuclear option. This controversial tactic would allow him to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote.
“I hope within the next 24 to 36 hours we can get something we agree on. If not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done. The caucus will support me on that,” Reid told reporters.
Although its use has been threatened in the past to spur the minority party to agree to reforms, the nuclear option has never been used to change the standing rules, say parliamentary experts.
Reid has come under heavy pressure from liberal advocacy groups to drastically limit the minority party’s power to filibuster and delay legislation.
This is the same Harry Reid who, in 2005, back when Republicans had a majority in the Senate and democrats were using the filibuster to block confirmation of nominations (like John Bolton for UN Ambassador) that they didn’t like, and Republicans threatened to change the Senate rules, accused Republicans excessive partisanship and of bending to “the whispered wishes of a few right wing activists,” and desperately demanded the preservation of the filibuster as an affirmation of bipartisanship.
If Reid uses the nuclear option, he is going to be very sorry in 2014 or 2016 when majority control of the Senate returns to Republicans.