Senate Rules Reform ? the Weekly Recap, October 11, 2013

Washington, DC – Discussions among Senate Democrats of re-engaging on the issue of rules reform emerged this week in light of recent Senate Republican threats to filibuster efforts to raise the debt ceiling.

Blocking a debt ceiling increase using Senate rules would ensure that our country can’t pay its bills and would deliver a devastating blow to our ongoing economic recovery. The very fact that a 60-vote threshold stands in the way of avoiding economic catastrophe is a reminder of why Senate rules are in need of reform.

See below for this week’s key commentary and analysis:

  • Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “Every instance of obstruction, exploiting and abusing the 60-vote threshold is additional evidence in favor of changing the Senate rules … The more that is at stake … the more the abuse of the rule argues in favor of changing it.”
  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA): “The rules will have to change … If we don’t [have the votes to break a filibuster], then I think it’s time to recognize the new realities that I have been talking about for a number of years. And the reality is that this ain’t your grandma’s Senate.”
  • Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR): “I’m certainly an advocate for ending the paralysis of the Senate … I think we have to continue to look at how the lurching from crisis to crisis is doing deep damage to the economy.”
  • Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT): “If the Republicans are going to continue to obstruct, and make it impossible to address the needs of the American people, then I think we have to think about changing the rules.”
  • Manu Raju, Politico: ”Senate Democratic leaders are actively considering invoking the “nuclear option” to gut the filibuster if Republican senators block a year-long increase of the debt limit, according to several sources familiar with the matter … The highly controversial move would allow Senate Democrats to pass a debt limit hike through 2014 with just 51 Democratic votes, rather than the 60 that would ordinarily be required to overcome a filibuster.”
  • Abby Ohlheiser, The Atlantic: “The Senate Democrats are threatening to go nuclear and change the rules under an arcane process to try and pass something to avoid disaster, while many Republicans believe the disaster quickly approaching is about as real as the Loch Ness Monster.”