Changes to Senate Filibuster Rules Could Start a Fight

Lara Seligman

Senate Republicans are threatening revolt if Democrats push through a rare move to change how filibusters are enacted in the chamber, according to Politico.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to unveil a rules package at the start of the new Congress that is almost certain to include changes to the filibuster. Republicans object most strongly to the possibility that Reid could enact what has come to be known as the "nuclear option,” which would allow a simple majority to override the rules of the Senate, rather than the 67 votes it takes now. 

The change could transform the Senate, which historically has run on compromise, into a body more like the the House of Representatives, where the majority rules with an iron fist, according to the New York Times. The move would give greater control to the party in the majority, diminishing the minority party's power to slow or stop legislation.  

“It will shut down the Senate,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the incoming Republican Whip, told Politico, calling the option “such an abuse of power.”

Reid is also considering additional changes, including one that would force senators to actually go through with extended, non-stop talking sessions to enact a filibuster, rather than simply using a threat.