End of Lengthy Legislative Day Removes Filibuster Reform Option

Senate leaders “agreed to adjourn the first legislative day of the 112th Congress on Tuesday night, closing the opportunity junior Democrats have to change Senate rules with the Constitutional option,” The Hill reports.

Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) had threatened to attempt to strip the minority party of some of its power to filibuster through a rules change requiring only 51 votes.

Under the so-called Constitutional option, on the first legislative day of a new Congress, senators can ask for a ruling from the presiding chair to amend the Senate rules and then can ratify such changes with a simple majority vote.

The “legislative day” could have been further extended, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “decided to shelve the option after it became clear during a lunchtime meeting Tuesday that 51 Democrats would not vote for a unilateral rules change.”

Democrats would now need “67 votes to change the chamber’s filibuster rule.”

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Filed under Party Leadership, Rules & Traditions

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