Sen. Harry Reid set a record during the 111th Congress by becoming the chamber’s most successful Majority Leader in history at killing attempted filibusters.
Though the Nevada Democrat’s batting average took a nose dive in 2010, Reid won 69 percent of his total attempts to shut down threatened filibusters in the two years of the 111th Congress that began January 2009.
Two former Majority Leaders — Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) — share the next best record; both won 63 percent of the time in the 109th Congress and the 94th Congress, respectively.
“While it is good news for the American people that Sen. Reid and the Democratic caucus have been able to overcome a record number of filibusters, it is at the same time unfortunate that our Republican colleagues have decided that the appropriate way to govern is to essentially try not to do anything,” Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said. “Sen. Reid will continue to work to ensure that we create jobs and turn our economy around. It is our hope that Senators on the other side of the aisle will end their record of obstruction and put the business of the American people before politics.”
Reid largely achieved his record in 2009, not 2010. In the first year of the session, Reid won 35 of 39 — a stunning 90 percent — of his attempts to close debate, or invoke cloture, on a variety of measures and nominations.
However, in 2010, his average dropped to 54 percent, when he won 28 cloture votes and lost 24. Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture and kill a filibuster.
One senior Senate Democratic aide said the disparity between 2009 and 2010 can largely be attributed to both parties’ maneuvering during a tough election year. Reid couldn’t get enough votes to reach cloture without somebody crossing the aisle. And while it behooved Republicans to stick together last year, Democrats also used some cloture votes as a way to create a clear contrast between the parties.
“As we got closer to the midterm elections, it made more sense to set up those contrasting votes,” the aide said. “As the tea party showed its teeth more, you had fewer instances where [moderate Republican Senators] were willing to cross the aisle.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.