Reid eyes ‘likely’ changes to Senate rules

REID EYES ‘LIKELY’ CHANGES TO SENATE RULES…. Meeting with center-left journalists on the Hill today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) not only blamed Republicans’ tactics for the chamber’s difficulties, but vowed to consider changes in the next Congress.

In a speech before a gathering of progressive media, Reid compared the procedural games played by his Republican counterparts to the use of the spitball in a baseball game and the four-corner offense in basketball — tactics in each sport that were ultimately outlawed.

“The filibuster has been abused. I believe that the Senate should be different than the House and will continue to be different than the House,” Reid said. “But we’re going to take a look at the filibuster. Next Congress, we’re going to take a look at it. We are likely to have to make some changes in it, because the Republicans have abused that just like the spitball was abused in baseball and the four-corner offense was abused in basketball.”

Reid has traditionally resisted talk of changing Senate procedures, but in light of the truly scandalous Republican tactics, it seems the Majority Leader has concluded he has no choice — not only is the status quo untenable and undermining the nation’s interests, but Reid likely realizes that he personally is being blamed for a 59-member majority not being able to govern or vote on its agenda.

It’s not clear exactly what kind of changes Reid would be open to — he didn’t say — but the fact that reform will be at least be on the table is heartening.

In terms of when we can expect to see changes, or even the possibility of changes, this year will likely offer very little. Reid noted consideration of changes in the “next Congress,” which as Sam Stein noted, is a significant qualifier: “To change Senate rules in the middle of the session requires 67 votes, which Democrats clearly don’t have. But changing the rules at the beginning of the 112th Congress will require the chair to declare the Senate is in a new session and can legally draft new rules. That ruling would be made by Vice President Joe Biden, who has spoken out against the current abuse of the filibuster. The ruling can be appealed, but that appeal can be defeated with a simple majority vote.”