Clyburn to Reid: Change filibuster rules

A top House Democrat is urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to change Senate rules so the Republicans could no longer filibuster President Obama's judicial nominees.

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, predicted Republicans would jump at the chance to eliminate the filibuster if they were to win back control of the upper chamber. With that in mind, he called on Reid to beat them to the punch.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I really believe that there's going to be a rules change very soon, and how you define soon may be the issue,” Clyburn said Tuesday. “I'm thinking that if Leader Reid does not do it, and if, God forbid, there's a change in the composition of the Senate, I guarantee you that the first thing they [Republicans] will do is change the rules.

“So I would say to Leader Reid, let's do that change now,” he added.

Clyburn said he's basing his prediction on his experience with the state politics of South Carolina, where Republicans in the minority advocated for an adherence to long-held rules and traditions — until they won the majority and altered those conventions themselves. 

“I've seen this before,” Clyburn said. “When they [Republicans] were in the minority [they said], ‘Oh, you've got to honor the system; you've got to honor the tradition.’ And Democrats did that. 

“The moment they got in charge, the rules changed in 24 hours,” he added. “And I'm saying the same thing is going to happen here.”

Clyburn's comments arrive one day after the Senate shot down Obama's nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia — the fourth judicial nominee the Republicans have blocked this year. 

Although Wilkins won the support of 53 senators, including Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), he fell far short of the 60 votes needed to defeat the GOP filibuster.

The vote has infuriated Senate Democrats, many of who are pushing Reid to alter the Senate rules to prevent the minority from using a filibuster in the case of judicial picks. Republicans have said that such a move would defy chamber traditions, warning that the change would dog Democrats if the GOP were to retake the Senate in 2014.