Jack Reed hasn’t made up his mind about filibuster changes

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says he hasn’t made up his mind yet about whether to support a push by some of his colleagues to change the Senate’s filibuster rules to make it harder for Republicans to block legislation.

“I haven’t made a conclusion,” Reed told WPRI 12’s Tim White last week. “I am looking very carefully.”

“I am – as I have had to do with everything – thinking very carefully about what we’re doing so that I can make the best possible decision on behalf of all Rhode Islanders and indeed, when it comes to procedures in the Senate, for the country at large,” Reed said. “Not just for the moment, but for the future of the country.”

Reed and about 10 other Democrats who remain on the fence about the filibuster changes are coming under heavy pressure from liberal groups to back the proposal after the GOP made heavy use of procedural roadblocks to stymie President Obama’s agenda. A poll they released this month suggested a majority of Rhode Islanders back the idea in theory.

“I understand the frustrations about procedural delays. I’ve seen it,” Reed told White. He cited as an example the multiple procedural votes required to pass extensions of unemployment benefits, even though the final passed with nearly unanimous support. “This is not about the substance of the proposal – it was just simply: delay,” he said. “That is frustrating. I understand that.”

However, Reed expressed concern about the long-term impact any changes to the Senate rules could have.

“I want to make sure what we do will not in the long run be a way in which those same individuals would come in and say, ‘Gee, you should be able to stop this bad legislation,'” Reed said. “So what I’m talking about is trying to be careful, thoughtful about the proposal and make a decision and well before the time to vote and make that decision public.”

• Related: Reed on the fence about filibuster changes, unlike Whitehouse (Nov. 30)

8 thoughts on “Jack Reed hasn’t made up his mind about filibuster changes

  1. Perhaps Senator Reed’s point is that is it easy for either party to control 51 seats, less so to get to 60, and unlike the House, the Senate is not subject to the gerrymandered manipulations that change the structure of the House every decade. Caution may indeed be advised. In fact, if the rules do change, no sitting President should ever nominate a Senator from his own party to a Cabinet position unless the seat is safe.

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  3. Senator Reed referred to the long run, but the fact is that there is no long run with regard to Senate rules. More than ever, the Senators and the public now recognize that the legal (Constitutional) reality is that each Senate can make its own rules and cannot be restricted by any other body, including a previous Senate, in what its rules are. Even the so-called “nuclear option,” in which a Senate decides to change the rules in the middle of a Senate are legal, though thought by perhaps most as dishonorable. But the bottom line is that the Senate was never intended to require more that a majority to bring up or pass laws, nor was it meant to require more than a majority to be able to confirm a federal judge or cabinet member or head of an executive agency. I urge those who agree to email and call Senator Reed. You can find an easy contact for him by searching “Senators Home.” for example.

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