Updated: 2:20 P.M. ET
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is threatening to revisit the Senate rules amid the latest Republican filibuster — his second such threat this month.
While the Senate waits to wrap up passage of a stopgap bill to fund the government, Democratic leaders want to begin debate on the budget resolution. But Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) is blocking that unless Reid agrees to vote on his sequester amendment, which Reid won’t do because Democratic leaders don’t want to replace the automatic cuts in patchwork measures. So they’ll have to wait out the delays and finish the stopgap bill before moving on to the budget.
“It is things like that that will cause the Senate to have to reassess all the rules because right now they accomplish so little,” Reid said late Tuesday on the Senate floor. “I’m disappointed.”
It’s an idle threat for now because there’s little indication that Democratic leaders are willing to reignite another painful filibuster reform battle after the last one ended with a whimper this January. Nor do they want to raise expectations for changing the rules mid-session. But the many GOP filibusters since the rules change have left Democrats deeply frustrated.
At a Wednesday breakfast hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) also threatened to revisit filibuster reform.
“I supported Harry’s decision to try to work out a bipartisan agreement on the rules because I think it’s in the best interests of the institution, but I can tell you the abuse that we’ve seen since then is not encouraging at all,” Durbin told reporters. “I think we need to get back to regular order, and that means stopping the abuse of the filibuster.”
When the moderator asked how that can be fixed, Durbin responded, “Change the rules.” In the Senate? “Yeah,” Durbin said. “We may have to revisit that.”
Reid continued his criticism of Republican delays on the Senate floor Wednesday.
“Republicans were desperate, they said, to have a budget debate. Republicans were desperate for an amendment vote-a-rama,” the majority leader said in a morning speech. “So I was amazed yesterday — I mean amazed, flabbergasted, stunned — when Republicans blocked attempts to begin debate on the budget resolution.”
Moran refused to back down after Reid’s remarks and again demanded a vote on his measure, which would mitigate the sequester’s cuts to air traffic control towers. He claimed 26 cosponsoring senators, many of them Democrats.
“I can’t figure out why this amendment can’t be made in order,” Moran said. “Broad support — Republican, Democrat, I’ve had many senators, including very senior senators from the Democrat side of [the] aisle, come to me and express amazement this amendment cannot be considered. I can’t come up with an explanation.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.