Yes, we’re really likely to get filibuster reform. Harry Reid appears to be fully committed to getting something done, and he’ll almost certainly have 50 votes for something. Reid today, per Sahil Kapur:
“There are discussions going on now, but I want to tell everybody here: I’m happy, I’ve had a number of Republicans come to me and a few Democrats,” the Democratic majority leader told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We’re going to change the rules. We cannot continue in this way. So I hope we can get something Republicans will work with us on.”
The question isn’t whether we’ll have reform; the question is whether reform will solve any of the big problems with the dysfunctional Senate.
What we really need is reform that will not only give very large majorities a chance to work quickly (which the current package of reforms might help with by streamlining the process) but would also give all strongly committed majorities a chance at getting their way. In other words, real reform would break the 60-vote Senate for good. The current reforms, which are still in the drafting stage, are not yet guaranteed to get this done.
The strength of reform depends on how much support it has among Senate Dems. More Senators behind it make it more likely that reform will be comprehensive and meaningful. And so one of the bigger questions is whether Reid can count on solid backing of all 55 members of his caucus in January.
Which is why one of the key things that matters is how much pressure, if any, Democratic activists and organized groups will put on the Democrats of the 113th Senate over the next four weeks. Even for those already publicly committed to reform, it may matter how intense their support is — and how far their are willing to go.
For anyone with any doubts about this, just check the list compiled by Dylan Matthews today of bills and nominations which probably would have passed the Senate if not for filibusters.
The truth is that this is exactly the kind of thing for which constituent and organized group pressure can really make a difference. If Senators think that people are paying attention and care about it, they’re far more likely to act, and to act boldly. So, yes, the ball is in the Senate’s court. But this is one game where the key is whether all the rest of us will be spectators, or participants.