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The process debate began when McConnell challenged his Democratic counterpart over his pledge to eliminate some filibusters, warning of unintended consequences. He questioned Reid about plans to change the rules to eliminate filibusters of motions to proceed, which must be adopted for the Senate to take up bills. Reid said in a recent radio interview that he would push the rules change if he remains Majority Leader in January. Currently, motions to proceed can be filibustered and 60 votes are needed to overcome that blockade.
McConnell wanted rank-and-file Democrats listening to the floor exchange to consider what might happen if Republicans take control of the chamber after a rules change to allow for more simple-majority votes.
“Let’s assume we have a new president and I’m the Majority Leader next time and we’re operating at 51. I wonder how comforting that is to my friends on the other side,” McConnell said. “How does it make you feel about the security of Obamacare, for example?”
While parts of the 2010 health care law could be rescinded through the budget reconciliation process without 60 votes, the GOP-favored full repeal could not advance without rules changes.
Reid noted that he wants to maintain the ability of Senators to filibuster bills to keep them from passing, but he wants to ensure the majority can at least bring bills to the floor for debate.
“I’ve made it all very clear in all of my public statements about the need to get rid of the motion to proceed,” Reid said. “I’m not for getting rid of the filibuster rule. I’m convinced the best thing to do with the filibuster is have filibusters.”