WASHINGTON The tradition-laden Senate voted Thursday to modestly curb filibusters, using a bipartisan consensus rare in today’s hyper-partisan climate to make it a bit harder but not impossible for outnumbered senators to sink bills and nominations, The Associated Press reported.
The rules changes were broken into two pieces and approved by votes of 78-16 and 86-9. In both roll calls, Republican opponents were joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who usually sides with Democrats. Many of the GOP “no” votes came from tea party-backed senators like Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Rand Paul, R-Ky.; and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
The two votes and a brief debate took less than an hour, impressively quick for the Senate. They came after a more typical day that featured a sprinkling of senators’ speeches and long periods when the Senate chamber idled with no one talking, while private negotiations off the floor nailed down final details.
Earlier, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had tentatively agreed to a plan that would make it more difficult to hold up legislation and nominations using the filibuster.
In recent years, the number of filibusters has risen dramatically. According to the Democrats, Republicans launched more than 385 filibusters since 2007, compared to 49 from 1919 to 1970.
The filibuster is legislative jargon, but in real-person terms, it is an effort to hijack legislation. It’s a commonly used tactic by senators to either block legislation from coming up for debate or being voted on. In other words, there are two points in the legislative process that a single senator can filibuster, or hold up, a bill. FULL ARTICLE