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Fate of Filibuster Reform to be Decided

Senate leaders have begun meeting on filibuster reform and are expected to decide its fate this week. Alexander Bolton reports at The Hill,

In recent days, Reid has begun to focus on a proposal to tweak the filibuster rule by requiring the minority party to muster 41 votes to stall a bill or nominee. Under current rules, the responsibility is on the majority to round up 60 votes to end a filibuster.

Reid will insist on reducing delays to motions to begin debate on new business and motions to send legislation to conference talks with the House, according to Senate sources.

Democratic proponents of filibuster reform emphasize that Reid does not yet have a final package. They are holding out hope that Reid can be persuaded to include the talking filibuster after a caucus debate.

Reid may or may not present the "constitutional option" or "nuclear option." he will first try to get Minority Leader McConnell to agree to a bipartisan compromise to their respective caucuses this week.

Reid will have leverage with the Democrats in opposing the 'Talking Filibuster," since he is supported by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Max Baucus, Carl Levin, Joe Manchin and Mark Pryor. Now Sen. Richard Durbin, an astute vote-counter, says there are not enough votes "at this point" to secure a "Talking Filibuster" requirement.

At Huffpo, however, Amanda Terkel reports that Sen. Tammy Baldwin has endorsed the 'Talking Filibuster" advocates. Terkel adds,

There are two ways the Senate could change the rules: Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could agree to a deal, or Reid could force a vote on the floor if McConnell refuses to cooperate. Reid has already made McConnell an offer.

"The ball is in McConnell's court -- agree to Reid's offer, or let's get it on," said a top Senate Democratic aide....Filibuster reform advocates need 50 votes plus that of the vice president in order to change the rules of the Senate when the chamber reconvenes on Tuesday. Udall has said he is confident they will have enough votes, and the bill has the strong support of progressive groups.

Any of the aforementioned reforms would be an improvement over the current reality, in which a super-majority is required to do anything significant. If McConnell refuses the compromise, my hope is that Reid will use the 'constitutional option' to enact even stronger restrictions on the filibuster. The Republicans need to know that refusing to compromise always has a penalty.