Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin advocated for changes to the Senate rules Sunday, including ending secret holds and creating “ownership” for filibusters.
“We just lurch from one quorum call to another, 30 hours of doing nothing to another 30 hours of doing nothing — more filibusters than ever in the history of the Senate,” the Illinois Democrat said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s a clear abuse of what was supposed to be a rare and rarely used procedural option.”
Secret holds are “archaic” and “wrong,” Durbin said. He also argued that filibustering Senators should be required to be present on the floor in order to hold up bills.
“The idea that I think should be pushed in the Senate is if it is important to you as a matter of principle, then have the courage to stand up and take ownership of this filibuster,” he said.
Democrats have been struggling to come up with a consensus proposal to change Senate rules, even as time appears to be running out on their ability to effect the changes they desire. Democrats need to have a concrete proposal by the time the 112th Congress convenes Jan. 5 if they want to take advantage of a 1970s precedent, in which the chamber’s filibuster rules were changed by a simple majority vote. Otherwise, rules changes require a 67-vote majority.
Minority Whip Jon Kyl indicated Sunday that there is opportunity for discussion on the matter.
“The kinds of things that Dick talked about are the kinds of things we could talk about ... because that doesn’t result in a fundamental change to the protection of the minority’s rights,” the Arizona Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So as long as we don’t get rid of that, I’m happy to visit with Dick and others about the other kind of changes.”
The possibility of reducing the number of votes to break a filibuster from 60 was a non-starter for Kyl.
“No, that would be the fundamental change that the Senate dare not, I think, go to,” he said.
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.