Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, raised eyebrows this week when he filibustered his own bill. Leader McConnell had a bill that would allow the President to raise the debt ceiling on his own, Congress could then reverse the change. The idea came up last year during the debt ceiling negotiations. When the vote came up, Leader McConnell said that bills of their nature needed sixty votes, effectively filibustering his bill.
Democrats are signaling that they are working to get Republicans on board for filibuster reform. Recently, there have been two high-profile filibusters. The first was from Sen. Rand Paul, who filibustered a bipartisan defense bill. His filibuster, which held up the authorization bill, was blasted by Sen. John McCain. Sen. McCain, who was trying to use the bill as evidence that the Senate can work together, then said that the filibuster gave the Democrats “credence” to their efforts to reform the filibuster. Returning and freshman Democratic Senators are trying to reform the filibuster, removing the need for sixty votes to end debate and to work with House and Senate committees. They want to make Senators speak about the bill, as was done in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Democrats are saying that they are prepared to use what opponents call the ‘nuclear option.’ The procedure, which would most likely be used on the first day, would allow the Senate to suspend the rules to change the rules, and only requires fifty-one votes to pass. Opponents say that the move would effectively destroy the greatness of the Senate, and destroy the abilities of the minority party.