In a report suggesting that Senate Democrats are likely to have the 51 votes necessary to reform the filibuster next month, Ryan Grim reports that Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has embraced an important reform to prevent obstruction of judicial and other nominees. According to Grim, Reid, “wants to streamline the nomination process, and cut out some of the time it takes to move judges through by limiting debate once a filibuster has been defeated.”
This is a significant addition to the package of reforms Reid already endorsed, which include eliminating the minority’s ability to filibuster the same bill more than once and requiring a senator to speak on the floor in order to maintain a filibuster. Under current Senate rules, the minority can force up to 30 hours of floor time to be wasted even after a supermajority of the Senate votes to break a filibuster on a nominee. When multiplied across the many hundreds of nominees the Senate must confirm, these 30 hours of wasted time allow the minority to bring the Senate to a virtual standstill.
Of course, it remains to be seen just how deeply Reid is willing to cut these 30 hours — in an ideal world, he will embrace Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) suggestion to eliminate all of them. Nevertheless, the fact that Reid appears to be on board with cutting short these 30 hours of waste is a significant positive development in the negotiations over filibuster reform.