"The Senate's recent overuse of the filibuster," says newly elected independent senator Angus King, "has stalled progress on practically every issue of importance in America. The 60-vote requirement that it creates is not in the Constitution." Reforming the filibuster was one of his signature campaign issues, and Harry Reid said this summer that he agreed. He's committed himself to filibuster reform when the new Senate term opens in January.
So will it happen? The safe answer is no, but this might actually be the perfect time for it. You see, there are usually two big obstacles to filibuster reform: the opposition party and the governing party. The opposition party doesn't want reform because it's afraid of what the governing party can do without it. And the governing party doesn't want reform because it's afraid of what the opposition party will do if they win control in the next election. ...Kevin Drum, MoJo
I think they should do the right thing. Or at least limit the number of filibusters. But Angus King may prove to be the key to this. He says won't be deciding which party he will caucus with until he's talked with both. I wouldn't be surprised if he uses the filibuster issue as a litmus test.
King was interviewed yesterday by NPR. The interview offers some clues ...
KING: Does caucusing mean you're signing up for 85 percent of the votes or are you really just signing up for the organization of the Senate. I mean, that's one of the questions is, what does caucusing actually mean? What I said - I had a press conference today, is - what I said is whichever way that caucusing decision goes, I will not be an automatic vote in that direction nor will I automatically be opposed to the other team. My whole reason for going down there is to try to build bridges and get people talking to one another, and caucusing may be part of the process in order to participate fully in, you know, in committees and things like that, but I really think we got to get beyond this partisan stuff and we've got solve some problems. ....
NPR: When you've spoken of Senate rules, of course, the relationship between partisanship and Senate rules is the ease with which bills are filibustered, the ability of individual senators to place holds on nominations. Are there questions like that that you'd like to hear either the majority or the minority leader answer for you?
KING: Yes, I think so. I mean, I've been talking up here, and I got to tell you that people in Maine, and I suspect other parts of the country, don't really understand this business of, for example, anonymous holds on nominations and holding people. We had a federal judge nominated up here about a year ago, wonderful guy, supported by the Republican senators, nominated by the president and still in limbo. It just doesn't make sense. So, yeah, the holds, filibuster, all of those things, I think, are ripe for discussion. Whether or not they will enter into this caucusing decision I'm not sure, but certainly I think it's something we have to talk about. ...NPR