“I would say that [Democrats] realize that there’s a good chance they’re going to find themselves in the minority, and so what they’re asking for is if the rules are going to apply one way when they’re in the majority, that they’ll be applied the same way if Republicans are in the majority,” he added. “That’s not an unreasonable request.”
The votes on the resolutions follow weeks of work on rules proposals and committee ratios.
Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) had led a group of junior lawmakers eager to drastically change the chamber’s rules via the constitutional option, and Harkin and Merkley expressed disappointment Thursday.
A demoralized Harkin said during closing debate that he doesn’t fear voters or the ballot box. “What I fear is that this Senate will continue to be dysfunctional,” said the longtime proponent of changes to filibuster rules.
Merkley pointed out progress after the votes. “While I’m disappointed that stronger rules reforms did not pass today, we have come a long way in a very short time,” he said in a statement. He added that they will continue to build support “to restore deliberation to this chamber.”
Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who helped negotiate the agreement with Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), said that Democrats did not get everything they wanted and that there was more to be done.
“I believe in the talking filibuster,” he said, referring to the resolution offered by Merkley that would have required a Senator to hold the floor during a filibuster. “I think that the basic view on both sides of the aisle was that the traditions of the Senate should not be undone with a snap of the fingers.”
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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