The single most important decision the Senate will make in the next two years will likely be whether to abolish or at least strictly curtail the minority’s power to veto any bill or nomination via a filibuster. This one decision, which Senate Democrats must make as soon as the new senators-elect are sworn in this January, is likely to decide whether President Obama can confirm a nominee — any nominee — to the Supreme Court, whether Obama’s next slate of cabinet officials represent the best public servants in the country or the best public servants who have never said a single word that can be used to embarrass the president, and whether Mitch McConnell — a man who said that kicking Obama out of office is his top priority — retains his iron grip on the Senate chamber.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last night, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) indicated that he gets just how important this decision will be:
MADDOW: If it turns out that Republicans don’t feel any differently about you guys than they did the past few years, is there a prospect for filibuster reform in the Senate?
DURBIN: It depends on the numbers of Democratic senators elected as to whether there will be filibuster reform. I have taken an look at some of the proposals. I think we need them. Consider in the last six years, we have had 380 Republican filibusters. In the six years of LBJ when he was the leader in the 60s, there was one filibuster. They’ve abused it to the point now where the Senate is a shell of its former self. It needs to be functional. We need reform that makes a filibuster count. Stick around. Don’t go out to dinner and tell us you’ll be back in 30 days — 30 hours — whatever it happens to be.
Durbin now joins Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) among the high-ranking Senate Democrats who support filibuster reform.