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Whenever a new Senate term rolls around, senators in the majority party flirt with reforming the filibuster. The move has been used significantly in past years to require 60-vote supermajorities for most legislation. Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is gathering support for another attempt at filibuster reform -- and the GOP is threatening to shut the Senate down should he succeed.
Here's the question. Assuming that any changes to the filibuster would carry over if the Republicans regain the majority, are they worthwhile to make? If Senators are required to hold the floor and talk to sustain a filibuster, would it repair the damaged relations in the upper chamber?
Or, is it simply the will of a power-hungry majority to stifle the minority?
Politico has the story:
Here's what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering: banning filibusters used to prevent debate from even starting and House-Senate conference committees from ever meeting. He also may make filibusters become actual filibusters -- to force senators to carry out the nonstop, talkathon sessions.
Republicans are threatening even greater retaliation if Reid uses a move rarely used by Senate majorities: changing the chamber's precedent by 51 votes, rather than the usual 67 votes it takes to overhaul the rules.
"I think the backlash will be severe," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the conservative firebrand, said sternly. "If you take away minority rights, which is what you're doing because you're an ineffective leader, you'll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we'll do what we have to do to fight back."
"It will shut down the Senate," the incoming Senate GOP whip, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, told POLITICO. "It's such an abuse of power."