Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is on track to set the record for having the best batting average when it comes to killing filibusters.
Since the beginning of the 111th Congress, Reid has won 90 percent of his efforts to cut off attempted Republican filibusters. Two former Majority Leaders Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) tied for the next best record of winning votes to end debate or invoke cloture; both Senators prevailed 63 percent of the time in the 109th Congress and the 94th Congress, respectively.
If the Senate continues at its current pace, Reid will set a new record if he is able to win just one in five cloture votes for the rest of this Congress, a Roll Call analysis shows. Sixty votes are needed to beat back a filibuster and invoke cloture.
Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said Reid has succeeded despite what Democrats say is extraordinary GOP blocking tactics.
We have done all of this with little or no help from Republicans who have chosen time and time again to do nothing, Lachapelle said in an e-mail.
Though the repeated refusal of one or more Senate Republicans to allow Reid to bring up a bill or quickly close debate on legislation has been the primary reason for most of the 49 cloture votes during the 111th Congress, GOP votes have put Reid over the top in most cases. This Congress, Reid had a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority for just six of the past 15 months. That was between the time Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was sworn in last July and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) won the special election in January to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D).
One senior Senate GOP aide said the minoritys reluctance to move quickly on legislation isnt necessarily about the policy itself; rather, its about Senators wanting to secure votes on their amendments.
The fact that weve had so many cloture votes is not because legislation is not bipartisan, the aide said. Its because there was a failure to negotiate a process to go forward.
The aide added, Winning cloture votes is sort of a dubious honor, because that means you had a partisan process to set things up.
Though much was made of Browns status as the 41st Senate Republican who would give his party the ability to sustain filibuster, Reid has lost only one of the seven cloture votes held since Brown was seated, and Brown has been a frequent defector on those votes.
Reid is expected to win another cloture vote today possibly with Browns help when the Senate votes to close debate on an extension of jobless benefits.
From a minority standpoint, you have to pick and choose your fights, the senior Senate GOP aide said. You cant hold 41 on every vote that matters to someone. We have zero margin for error.
The aide also acknowledged that only a handful of Senate Republicans have created the current climate of objecting to bringing up or closing debate on bills without a cloture vote, using the example of frequent objector, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).