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.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.