Senate Dems Sign On For Filibuster Reform.

Every returning Democratic Senator has signed on to a letter in support of filibuster reform:

While it does not urge a specific solution, Democrats said it demonstrates increased backing in the majority for a proposal, championed by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and others, weaken the minority’s ability to tie the Senate calendar into parliamentary knots.

Among the chief revisions that Democrats say will likely be offered: Senators could not initiate a filibuster of a bill before it reaches the floor unless they first muster 40 votes for it, and they would have to remain on the floor to sustain it. That is a change from current rules, which require the majority leader to file a cloture motion to overcome an anonymous objection to a motion to proceed, and then wait 30 hours for a vote on it.

... The fact that every returning Democrat signed the letter circulated by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Mark Warner, D-Va., urging changes underscores growing determination on the part of the Senate’s majority to raise the bars for filibusters.

I've reported on the efforts of Udall and other key reform-minded senators, including Oregon's Jeff Merkley, to convince their colleagues to join them in lowering the chamber's procedural obstacles with a majority vote on their first day back in session, likely January 5, which may even require the help of Vice President Joe Biden. With support massing, it may very be possible for the new guard to shock the Washington establishment and bring the Senate into the 21st century. Who said 2011 was going to be a boring year in Congress?

-- Tim Fernholz

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