We heard encouraging noises from Senate Democrats that they were going to change the rules and return the filibuster to its traditional status: requiring those who filibuster to actually talk on their feet for hours. Ain’t happening. Harry Reid and the Senate Dems gave in, again.
“After these small changes the Senate will operate much the same way as it did yesterday,” a Democratic aide told TPM. Republicans agree: “Rules change doesn’t really do a lot,” Senator Johnny Isakson told TPM. “It preserves the filibuster.”
Another silly argument is that, even though there were 51 votes to push through stronger reforms using the nuclear option, doing so would have angered Republicans and created more gridlock. This is a nicer approach that will encourage more comity. “It’ll give great momentum to working on a bipartisan basis here in the Senate,” Carl Levin told reporters. Anyone who actually believes that has a wildly undue faith in Mitch McConnell.
Yet another argument, channeled here by Ezra Klein, is that a massive filibuster fight is pointless with a Republican House, which will kill any liberal Senate bills anyhow. Putting aside any consideration of a long-term strategy, this would still only be true if the House had a say in nominations—which of course it does not. If a conservative Supreme Court justice retires or dies in the next four years, and the GOP filibusters Obama’s liberal appointee, let’s check back in on this theory.
The Dems didn’t want to make the Republicans mad. Oh, heavens, can’t we all just get along? The Republicans are in the minority but will continue to run the Senate because Reid and his woosies are afraid of taking action. We’d like to see a politician with the ideals of a Democrat and the cojones of a Republican.