Despite a lot of vocal opposition from liberal groups, and now from some on the right, a Republican Senate source says “chances are still pretty strong” that the filibuster reform agreement announced Thursday will be approved.
Republicans are not thrilled with the changes, and sympathize with many of the concerns raised by conservative skeptics. However, many remain convinced that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) was “lunatic” enough to “pull the trigger” on the so-called nuclear option: using an arcane rule to eliminate or substantially weaken the filibuster with 51 Democratic votes. The negotiated compromise, which preserves the minority party’s ability to block major legislation, is therefore a preferable, if not ideal, outcome.
I’m also getting pushback on the idea that the deal would create “super senators” with the power to control which amendments their respective parties may offer on a given bill. That’s a misleading characterization. Apparently, there was an effort by some senators to give sole authority to choose amendments to the manager on a given bill, but that language was ultimately removed from the final version.
“Under the current arrangement, Harry Reid is the super senator, and gets to decide what amendments get offered on everything,” a GOP aide told me. The new agreement would guarantee at least two amendments chosen by the minority party, not by any one senator.
The left, meanwhile, is furious. “Democrats are getting hammered on this,” the aide said. MSNBC host Ed Schultz is struggling to cope. Senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) issued a semi-incomprehensible rant on the Senate floor, in which he argued that the country’s founders would have considered the filibuster “sacrilegious.”