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Merkley Bumps Back On Rules Reform

OPB | Jan. 22, 2013 5:45 p.m. | Updated: Jan. 23, 2013 6:35 a.m. | Portland

Contributed By:

April Baer

Senator Jeff Merkley says he hopes his preferred plan for filibuster changes may survive high-level negotiations by Senate leaders.

Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met to talk about rules reform. Merkley is one of several Democrats who wants to make it harder for the minority party to hold up debate.

Merkley has urged Reid to hold a simple majority vote if necessary to change filibuster rules. Republicans have suggested that approach would poison any chance for a collegial atmosphere this session. Merkley disagrees.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon

“This idea that you’re getting off on the wrong foot,” Merkley said, “Isn’t it the right foot to create accountability? Isn’t it right to say if any Senator wants to obstruct, they have to spend time and energy to do it?”

Merkley has suggested several changes. He wants to restore the verbal debate that once was part of every filibuster. But he says he’s interested in several other proposals, including limits on how long the Senate can debate executive nominees. He says he also favors a plan that would require the minority party to muster 41 votes to filibuster.

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