"We’re going to take a serious look at whether Senate rules ought to be changed in order to make the Senate work more effectively," Alexander told The Hill last week. "I think the world around us has changed and that the Senate itself has changed and that we probably need a change in rules."
The task force's recommendations are not expected to be proposed or implemented for months, but they're coming as anti-filibuster sentiment grows in the conservative base. In the wake of the unsuccessful campaign to cut funds to Planned Parenthood, a number of House Republicans suggested that the Senate's filibuster rules were preventing Americans from appreciating the work of the people elected in 2014.
"The filibuster has been responsible for 90 percent of the division in the House leadership," said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a conservative who saw the blame for the failure of anti-abortion bills shift from the Democratic Senate to the filibuster.
On the campaign trail, Republican candidates for president have almost universally derided the rules that let the Democrats slow down bills. There's been particularly pointed anger at the votes on the Iran nuclear deal; even Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), who's running in the moderate lane of the primary, has said that the party should have forced a vote on the deal under the 60-vote cloture threshold.
"Would I get rid of the filibuster to get rid of Obamacare? Absolutely," Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) told the Washington Post after an event in Iowa this week. "The fact that they won’t jettison these archaic rules is beyond me, especially in the wake of this Iran deal. Iran possibly becoming a nuclear power – how is that not important enough to have this debate? At the very least, get some conservative reforms on [the president's] desk."
Democrats, who succeeded last year in lowering the filibuster threshold for most non-lifetime nominations, have not said much about reform since they lost control of the chamber. FixTheSenate, an ad hoc group set up to lobby for reform, has made no public statements in 11 months; a question about the current Republican reform move was not answered today.