Reid to delay filibuster talks

Jan. 3, 2013 at 10:04 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will delay filibuster reform to give him time to negotiate with Republicans, Democratic lawmakers and aides said.

A senior Democratic aide said Reid will recess the chamber Thursday, the first day of the new Congress, at the end the day's proceedings to extend the legislative day until later this month, preserving his ability to amend the Senate's filibuster rules, The Hill reported.

An aide said Reid, D-Nev., also hopes to negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., language on a standing order or rules change to improve the chamber's efficiency when it resumes work after President Obama's inauguration.

"I think the conversation is going to continue between McConnell and Harry Reid about this," Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said. "I think they're going to see if there's a way to reach a bipartisan agreement, they're still talking."

"We're going to preserve our rights, we're going to stay in the first legislative day and deal with the rules when we get back after the inauguration," Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., a proponent of reform, told The Hill.

Reid and McConnell are basing their discussion on a bipartisan proposal developed by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee, aides said.

The Levin-McCain proposal, among other things, would make it easier for the majority leader to take up new business by allowing him to deny the minority the ability to filibuster motions to proceed, The Hill said. In exchange, the leader must guarantee the minority leader and a bill's minority floor manager each the right to offer an amendment, even if it isn't germane to the bill under consideration.

Liberals said they're not enthused by the Levin-McCain proposal because it doesn't implement their top reform priority, the "talking filibuster."

Udall and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the leading advocates for filibuster reform, told The Hill lawmakers who filibuster legislation should be required to actively hold the floor and debate, meaning they would have to organize teams to hold the floor if they want to delay consideration of legislation or nominees.

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