After the Senate voted to change filibuster rules Thursday, Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE (D-Iowa) called for more reforms.
“This has been escalating for a long period of time and it was time to stop it and that’s what we did this morning,” Harkin said. “Now we need to take it a step farther and change the filibuster rules on legislation.”
Fifty-two Democratic senators voted to limit the minority party’s right to filibuster executive branch and judicial nominees. Under the old rules, 60 votes were necessary to end debate on nominees, but Democrats changed the rules to require a simple majority.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was prompted to use the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules with a simple majority after Republicans blocked three of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court.
The nuclear option — which gets its name from the damage done to bipartisan relationships — allows a simple-majority to change the Senate rules rather than the usual super majority.
Republicans accused Democrats of being shortsighted by “breaking the rules to change the rules.”
“This is a blatant power grab,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said. “This is about the other side not getting everything they want when they want it.”
Harkin said it was a “good day” for the Senate and called for more reforms.
“I predict the sky will not fall ... but I do predict that our government will work better,” Harkin said.
Harkin said he’d support further rule changes that would prevent a single senator from blocking legislation and protect minority rights by allowing for germane amendment votes.
Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) have also proposed that senators only be allowed to filibuster if they’re willing to hold the floor — a talking filibuster.