Talk of filibuster reform percolates among Senate Dems

Talk of filibuster reform percolates among Senate Dems
Talk of filibuster reform percolates among Senate Dems

Two weeks ago, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), arguably the chamber’s most enthusiastic support of filibuster reform, told allies that the compromise reached in January “has failed” and the country “can’t wait any longer to make the Senate work.”

He’s not the only one who remains engaged on the issue.

Senate Democrats frustrated with the GOP’s blocking of a string of President Obama’s nominees are seriously weighing a controversial tactic known as the “nuclear option.”

The option – which would involve Democrats changing Senate rules through a majority vote to prevent the GOP from using the 60-vote filibuster to block nominations – was raised during a private meeting Wednesday involving about 25 Democratic senators and a group of labor leaders.

The labor officials demanded that Democrats break the logjam by stripping Republicans of the ability to filibuster.

All of this, of course, comes against the backdrop of Senate Republican efforts to derail Gina McCarthy’s EPA nomination and Thomas Perez’s Labor Secretary nomination. Senate Dems seem to be sending a not-so-subtle signal that more GOP obstructionism will make the “nuclear option” more likely.

Then again, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been making noises about this for a while, though there’s been no progress. It’s possible, in theory, that GOP senators would see the threats as an incentive to be responsible, but (1) that hasn’t worked so far; and (2) if Republicans don’t think Democrats are prepared to pull the trigger, the talk may ultimately be counter-productive.