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The advocates face an uphill battle both on Capitol Hill and within their own ranks. The proliferation of new proposals, including an ambitious effort to curb super PACs and lobbyist fundraising spearheaded by the nascent Represent.Us campaign, could complicate lobbying efforts.
Republicans on Capitol Hill also remain resistant to rules changes across the board. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met with members of the conservative Republican Study Committee this week to reiterate his opposition to political money curbs that he argues would violate the First Amendment.
McConnell has also bitterly criticized filibuster rules changes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has suggested that he might enact with a simple Senate majority on day one of the new Congress. McConnell has called this a move “to break the rules to change the rules.”
Reid is mulling changes that would not end the filibuster outright but would limit debate on motions to proceed with votes on bills or with House-Senate conference negotiations. He also would require so-called talking filibusters, meaning that a Senator could not block action without active floor debate.
“Senate rules have been abused to prevent any discussion of any serious legislation,” said the CWA’s Kohl. Fix the Senate Now coalition members have lobbied individual senators, and Common Cause has launched a petition drive. Common Cause has also mounted a legal challenge to the filibuster and is scheduled to hold a news conference Dec. 10, when the case is heard in federal district court.
Advocates of filibuster restrictions maintain that Reid has the votes to change the rules with a simple majority. But even some Democrats — most notably the senior senators known as “Old Bulls” — mindful that they are bound to return at some point to the minority, have expressed reservations about changing longtime Senate rules.
Still, Fix the Senate Now coalition members say new allies keep signing on to help them.
“I think we’re going to see more and more groups coming out and supporting this in different ways,” Brennan Center counsel Diana Kasdan said.