Emboldened by general election returns in which Republicans maintained both chambers of Congress and now hold 33 governorships, two-thirds of state legislatures and the White House, several members of the GOP House Caucus are exhorting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to eliminate the filibuster rule when the 115th Congress begins in January.
Often used by the minority, a filibuster is a procedural tactic in which opponents of pending legislation delay a vote with excessively long speeches on the Senate floor.
To topple unlimited debate and advance legislation, a two-thirds majority vote, known as cloture, is required. Involving 60 votes, cloture is rarely achieved.
As of yet, no GOP senator has joined forces with the House GOP members pushing McConnell to change floor rules.
However, not all Republicans in the House are lining up behind Rep. Matt Salmon (Ariz.), who favors a change for all legislation. Some GOP members prefer a limited change in rules for judicial appointments only.
Eyeing the opportunity to shape the court, particularly the expected battle over President-elect Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, some prefer changing rules to a simple majority for judges only.
“I would do away with a filibuster for judges in general,” said Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho).
Others still are reluctant to do away with a rule which appears to protect the minority. Citing spending bills, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said:
“It would be foolish to get rid of the filibuster. You’ll find very few Republican senators who want to get rid of the filibuster . . . to spend money in the Senate takes 60 votes. What conservative would want to lower the threshold to spend money down to 51?”
Known for his hesitance to tinker with Senate rules, McConnell has yet to respond to the call for elimination of the filibuster rule. In 2015, McConnell resisted pressure from the House to change procedural rules to defund President Obama’s plans on immigration dictated through executive actions.
[The Hill] [Photo courtesy AP/J. Scott Applewhite via Salon]