Filibuster deal 'could have been worse'
Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have inked a deal that would amend Senate rules to make the use of the filibuster more difficult, as well as clarifying a rule regarding the introduction of amendments to legislation.
It appears that no one is overjoyed by the compromise deal to change the filibuster rules of the Senate. The left-wing group CREDO blasted the deal by saying Majority Leader Harry Reid had failed to stop obstructionism and he should realize he "can never negotiate with Republicans in good faith." A top Republican aide defended the bill to me with the weak statement that "it could have been much worse."
The real winners from the compromise limiting the use of delaying tactics on the Senate floor are the leadership of both parties. Under the new arrangements, the number of amendments that could be offered will be limited to only four: two by the majority leader and majority manager, and two by the minority leader and minority manager.
As Hans von Spakovsky wrote in NRO attacking a previous proposed version of the deal: "It will create a new category of super senators who will be empowered to participate in the legislative process to the exclusion of rank-and-file members. . . . It would empower the leadership of both parties to the detriment of open debate and a free amendment process available to all members."
A top leadership staffer admitted to me this change "dramatically alters the dynamic of the Senate." Another aide told me "the real losers of this move are the Ted Cruzs, Tom Coburns, Rand Pauls and Mike Lees of the Senate. Some radical Democrats will also find their wings clipped but the restricted ability to change legislation will be felt most by conservatives."
I'm not sure the deal will be a "detriment" to open debate. That privilege will still exist. But as far as empowering the leadership there's no doubt this is the case. In fact, the rule on amendments was established so that leaders could more easily crack the whip on pending legislation. Play ball with the leader and you might have a chance to get your amendment to the floor.
No doubt the deal could have been far worse. But Harry Reid himself was reluctant to change the rules except at the margins, realizing that as soon as 2015, that he might be minority leader and would dearly love to have an effective filibuster to counter GOP legislation.