Reid may still invoke the "nuclear option" on the filibuster/AP Photo
Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "We'll consider changes in the Senate rules" acknowledging it may not happen immediately (specifically rules changes to the filibuster).
Reid offered a "fig leaf" to the Republicans saying, "I'm hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the Republican leader and I will reach an agreement that allows the Senate to operate more effectively", to which Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opined, "The Senate isn't functioning as it should. And it has nothing to do with a process that has served us well for a very long time." McConnell blamed the stalemate of the last two years in Congress on President Obama focusing on his re-election campaign and Senate Democrats "avoiding tough decisions," (well so much for Reid's "hope and optimism" of reaching an "agreement" with McConnell on filibuster reform).
Reid did keep the Senate's "opening day" in "recess" so rules changes can still be approved. He forecast the rules "discussion" would occur "later this month".
Dysfunction, obstructionism, beholden to big moneyed interests donating to their campaigns giving at least the appearance of corruption as well as arcane procedural rules have long characterized the U.S. Senate.
It's possible the dysfunction and obstructionism "could" be overcome today [i] if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic majority vote to change the rules and bring filibuster reform to the Senate.
Reid was able to put the new Senate's opening day of January 3 rd in "recess" thus allowing that opening day to "rollover". This was critical as any new Senate rules must be approved before the opening day's session is officially ended.
In particular, it's the filibuster rules, where currently it takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Even worse just the "threat" of waging a filibuster is all it takes for any member to preclude any legislation, any vote on presidential appointments or any business from taking place until the threat is overcome and/or satisfied. Who knows how that is done as it's often done secretly so the public has no idea who is doing the obstructing.
As to the obstructing culprit it's usually a member of the minority party enabled by the minority party's leadership bringing what I refer to as the "tyranny of the minority".
Majority's don't rule, where it takes 60 votes to do anything, so much as the minority essentially dictating whatever is done in this "august" body.
The major fear of changing the rules by any current majority has been what happens when they become the minority; they'll lose their ability to exercise the filibuster.
Well that subterfuge won't wash any longer if Reid and the Democrats can do the right thing and reform this abomination and subversion of democracy.
Even then there's no chance of actually ending the filibuster. The latest reports on reform would require an actual "talking filibuster" that require Senators to talk continuously on the floor of the Senate to keep their obstructionism going or the far weaker idea of mandating 41 actual votes on the floor to uphold a filibuster.
The filibuster isn't in the Constitution. It's a bastard creation as the Constitution requires only "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings". [ii]
In America, when it comes to anything of significance in getting something done or keeping the status quo, the basic rule of thumb is always "follow the money."