Filibuster Battle Stalls

by Katrina Trinko

No deal was made about the Senate’s procedure crisis tonight.

At the conclusion of a meeting Monday night that lasted about three and a half hours, there was a bipartisan agreement: The discussion between the 90 senators crowded into the old Senate chamber had promoted greater understanding, but produced no new consensus on whether the filibuster should remain in place for executive-branch nominees.

Republicans want the filibuster to continue, while Democrats are threatening to change Senate rules such that only 51 votes are needed to confirm certain presidential nominees.

Driving the debate is Republican opposition to confirming the National Labor Relations Board nominees that President Obama tapped in 2009. At the beginning of this year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said that Obama’s recess appointments were unconstitutional.

“We’ve had a very good conversation, the conversation is going to continue tonight,” Senate majority leader Harry Reid told reporters after the meeting ended.

That statement was echoed by Senator Mitch McConnell’s spokesman, Don Stewart, who said in a statement, “A clear bipartisan majority in the meeting believed the Leaders ought to find a solution. And discussions will continue.”

Senator John McCain struck a hopeful note, saying he thought Republicans were making “progress with the Democrat leadership.”

“I don’t think any votes were changed tonight,” Senator John Thune (R., S.D.) said, less optimistically. “But hopefully between now and tomorrow morning, there’ll be some sort of a breakthrough.”


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