The Senate voted on January 24 to change its filibuster rules in an attempt to allow legislation to move through the chamber more quickly. The inability of the Senate to reach unanimous consent on legislation resulted in many delays in recent years. In particular, it has also caused a delay in the consideration of the House-passed Super Storm Sandy supplemental appropriations bill (see Memo, 1/18). While the filibuster changes were not as substantial as some Senators hoped, they passed easily with bipartisan support.
Key changes include:
- A cloture vote on a motion to proceed could occur one day after the motion is filed. The package would also prohibit any further debate after cloture is invoked, thereby allowing for an immediate vote on legislation or a nomination. These changes to the cloture rules were included in S. Res. 16, which passed the Senate by a vote of 86 to 9. The reforms made in S. Res. 16 are permanent.
- The right to filibuster a motion to proceed is eliminated if as many as four amendment votes are allowed by the Majority Leader. The minority party will be allowed to offer two amendments after a cloture motion has been filed. These changes were included in S. Res. 15, which passed the Senate by a vote of 78 to 16. These changes will expire at the end of the 113th Congress.
The package does not include the reinstatement of the “talking filibuster,” which was advocated by some Senators and advocacy groups, and would have required any filibustering Senator to actually remain on the Senate floor and debate the bill in order to delay a vote.
Now that filibuster changes have been approved, the Super Storm Sandy supplemental appropriations bill is scheduled to be considered by the Senate the week of January 28.
Click here for the text of S. Res. 15.
Click here for the text of S. Res. 16.