Senate filibuster reform atop green group priorities

Brune said the groups want to work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to change filibuster rules. Both Democrats and Republicans have employed the tactic to block legislation, with the GOP aggressively wielding that option as the Senate minority.

Reid said Wednesday that he intends to reform upper chamber rules to diminish Republicans’ ability to filibuster floor proceedings. He indicated he would not end filibusters entirely, instead seeking to limit the practice.

Rule changes through the normal process would require a two-thirds Senate vote, which would require some GOP lawmakers to join the chamber’s 54 or 55 expected Democrats. Reid also could invoke a controversial “constitutional” method for rule reform, under which changes require only a simple majority.

Jeremy Symons, senior adviser with the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, said the urgency for rule changes is baked in a new calculus surrounding climate change and clean energy issues.

He said the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, this past summer’s record drought and wildfires that ravaged the West have heightened awareness on climate change issues.

“The old rules wont cut it where they move energy bills that are largely about satisfying special interests rather than dealing with the real problem at hand,” Symons said.