Filibuster issue in Senate GOP's lap

Jan. 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has given his Republican counterpart until Thursday to strike a bipartisan agreement on changes to the filibuster rules.

Reid, D-Nev., indicated Tuesday if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., doesn't resolve the standoff over filibuster changes, he would go "nuclear" on Republicans, Roll Call reported.

Reid said his package that would erase at least one filibuster option for Republicans and put the burden of blocking legislative movement on the minority party.

If there is no bipartisan agreement, Reid's plan would eliminate filibusters on motions to proceed -- now used by the minority to slow down the legislative process -- and require the minority party to have 41 votes to block other agenda items, Roll Call said. Currently, the majority needs 60 affirmative votes to invoke cloture

"To me [it's] key that 41 would be required to maintain the filibuster," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a proponent of changing the filibuster rules.

Republican senators said they were optimistic about achieving a bipartisan agreement, but said Reid and McConnell had to work out details.

"I think the two leaders are talking about it. I think they both probably talked about it at lunch, and my belief is they still have a little more talking to do, but we'll see," GOP Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri said.

A proposal offered by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., John McCain, R-Ariz., and others would give assurances to the minority party that a specific number of amendments could be offered.

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