"Being unable to stop filibusters can make the party in power look ineffective," Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University, told McClatchy Newspapers. "The Republican goal now is to make (President) Obama look like an ineffective leader."
This past year, Senate Republicans have used the filibuster -- extended debate to block decisive votes -- to make the "Senate dysfunctional" and prevent it from accomplishing even the most routine matters, said Mark Strand, the president of the Congressional Institute, a nonpartisan research group.
Democrats used similar tactics in 2006 and won enough seats to gain a Senate majority.
"Republicans are gambling they can convince the American people Democrats can't get much done, and at the moment, their gamble is paying off," said former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., the president of the New School in New York.