Harry Reid Weighs New Limits on Senate Republicans

Image: Harry Reid Weighs New Limits on Senate Republicans

Monday, 10 Feb 2014 07:16 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is being lobbied by liberal groups to broaden his November 2013 filibuster reform – which reduces the number of votes needed to defeat a filibuster from 60 to a simple majority – to make it harder still for the Republican minority to block legislation, The Hill reported.

One idea would, in effect, end virtual filibusters by requiring GOP senators to hold the floor and speak continuously around the clock. Another change would eliminate "blue-slipping" – the tradition of granting senators approval for judicial nominees in their states.

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Liberal and labor groups have coalesced behind Fix the Senate Now, which is calling on Reid to consider steps to hasten the confirmation of President Barack Obama's 32 pending judicial nominees, according to The Hill.

Democrats worry that if Republicans recapture the Senate in the 2014 elections, few Obama judicial nominees would be confirmed.

Reid is averse to another confrontation with Republicans over Senate rules but is also exasperated by GOP obstructionism. "Reid is not afraid to go further and considers reform this year a real possibility," a Democratic Senate source told The Hill.

Labor leaders are incensed that the Senate did not vote on a three-month extension of unemployment benefits. African-American leaders are irate that Georgia Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson used their influence to push through approvals for two judges for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals whom the leaders view as having problematic civil rights records.

The Congressional Black Caucus has also criticized Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., for blocking home state African-American nominees.

Republican sources told The Hill that the Democratic majority "should respect the system of checks and balances that our founders established and resist the power-hungry elements in their own base that care more about their own special interests than they do about fealty to the law."

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