Sen. Lamar Alexander said he has reached out to Members from both parties and reminded Democrats that procedural tactics such as the filibuster could work in their favor if they are thrust into the minority following the 2012 elections.
Democrats are expected to revisit the issue during their Thursday caucus meeting. But it’s been a topic that has dominated previous caucus meetings in the weeks since the midterm elections. Udall acknowledged that time is running short to get an agreement.
Moderate Sen. Mark Pryor said he was reluctant to make any rules changes next year, particularly without any Republican support.
“I understand the frustration, but I just think we need a lot of wisdom when it comes to changing Senate rules,” the Arkansas Democrat said. “Our rules have worked well for a long time.”
Besides eliminating the filibuster on motions to proceed to a bill, Democrats also have been kicking around the idea of requiring a Senator to be present on the floor to sustain a filibuster or eliminate a secret hold.
They have also been discussing whether to put the onus of a filibuster on the minority. Currently, supporters of a bill must produce 60 votes to kill a filibuster. Some Democrats say they may want to reverse the burden so opponents must produce 41 votes to sustain their position.
But so far, no single proposal has emerged.
“This is an important week to the rules process,” another Senate Democratic aide said. “It’s important to getting a final determination on the direction.”
On January 3, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raises her right hand as her son Henry messes up her hair while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., delivers the ceremonial swearing-in in the Old Senate Chamber. Gillibrand's other son Theodore, lower right, looks on.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.