In the USA...Rig the Vote: Republicans Push for Soviet Style Elections Where the Loser Wins
By: Sarah Jones
Jan. 23rd, 2013
Bob Shrum, Professor of Public Policy at NYU and Daily Beast contributor, was on the Ed Show discussing how Republicans are trying to gerrymander the Presidency when he announced that Republicans want to “Institutionalize a system where the loser wins… Soviet style election.”
Ed Schultz started the segment off explaining that Republicans are trying to rig the next election, “Republicans in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan want to change the way they award electoral votes. They aren’t trying to improve the system, they only want to change the electoral process for some people….”
Republicans aren’t trying to change red states like Kansas. Oh, no. Kansas is fine, thank you very much. Republicans want to change the rules in these blue states currently controlled by Republicans:Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Under their new rules,Republicans would have gotten an extra 45 electoral votes for Mitt Romney.
Bob Shrum summed it up as a felonious assault on elections, “What’s going on here is a felonious assault on free elections. It’s an attempt to gerrymander the presidency. If you think about it, you could argue that the Republicans haven’t won the presidency on the up and up since 1988.”
Yes, he went there. He continued, “They stole 2000, when they stole Florida with the complicity of the Supreme Court. In 2004, they engaged in massive voter suppression. People in Ohio had to wait 8-10 hours to vote and tens of thousands of them couldn’t wait 8-10 hours. They tried it again in 2012 and they lost. They can’t win the presidency so what they want to do is institutionalize a system where the loser wins… This is a kind of Soviet style elections.”
Not only did Bob Shrum just admit on national TV that Republicans stole 2000 and most likely 2004 (this is something not mentioned by MSM, but the facts are the facts), but he also likened Republican elections to Soviet style elections.
Republicans know they can’t win without cheating and disenfranchsing large groups of the electorate. At some point, it might be easier if they just changed their policies in order to actually attract real voters. Obviously they don’t feel that would pay off or they would do it.
The real question Americans should be asking themselves is just what is the huge payoff that makes Republicans so willing to risk continuing to lose elections and having to resort to cheating to win? We know their Southern Strategy is on its last legs, and has marginalized them to a regional party. But what exactly was the Southern Strategy meant to hide? That is the real question.
***************Maddow warns GOP’s presidential vote rigging plan ‘is gathering steam’
By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 23:38 EST
Following up on her Tuesday segment, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained how Virginia Republicans planned to set up the presidential election system in favor of the GOP.
“We have been documenting over the last few days what appears to be a coordinated effort by Republicans in a number of key states to change the rules for electing a president,” she said. “To change the rules so essentially Democrats running for president cannot win.”
Republican lawmakers in the state are advancing legislation to replace the current winner-takes-all system with one that allocates electoral college votes based on the winner of each congressional district. The bill would ensure Republican presidents pick up electoral college votes from rural, conservative districts. Combined with the latest gerrymandered electoral maps that were pushed through the state Senate, the proposed changes would virtually guarantee that Republican presidents obtain a majority of electoral votes from the state, even if they receive less votes.
“If the system Virginia Republicans are pushing now had been in place in 2012, Barack Obama still would have received 150,000 more votes than Mitt Romney in Virginia, but the electoral college vote in Virginia would have been 4 votes for Barack Obama and 9 votes for Mitt Romney,” Maddow explained. “I wonder why they want to make that change?”
“The action today in Virginia is the first of its kind in the nation,” she continued. “What we have been covering is Republicans making noises about doing this across the country wherever they can. We’ve been covering Democrats bracing for the prospect of moves like this all across the country, not just in Virginia, but in Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania. And in Pennsylvania, the Republicans have a bill in committee. But Virginia is the first state to actually get on with it and start moving it forward. This is a big story, and it is gathering steam.”
January 23, 2013Redistricting in Virginia Hurts Blacks, Democrats Say
By TRIP GABRIEL
On Monday, one of Virginia’s state senators attended the inauguration: Henry L. Marsh III, a longtime civil rights lawyer, who played hooky to witness a milestone for an African-American president.
The same day, Republicans back in the state capital, Richmond, took advantage of his absence to win a party-line vote, 20 to 19, to redraw electoral maps in a way that Democrats say dilute African-Americans’ voting strength.
The move not only has Democrats howling about a power grab, it has also been criticized by Virginia’s Republican governor and lieutenant governor.
Redrawing districts to favor the party in power is hardly new in Virginia, or elsewhere. Democrats redrew the state map in 2011 when they held the majority in the Senate, although their efforts to achieve electoral gains were less than successful: they lost control of the chamber later that year.
Republican senators say the new map increases the number of Senate districts in Virginia with black majorities to six from five and is necessary to shield the state from lawsuits under federal civil rights law. But Democrats are furious that the map also dilutes the party’s power by removing blacks from as many as a dozen districts; and under the guise of bowing to the Voting Rights Act, they say, it would pack blacks in fewer districts over all.
“This was nothing more than what I call plantation politics,” said Senator Donald McEachin, the chairman of the Democratic caucus.
The issue has reintroduced partisan rancor in the State Senate, which is evenly split, 20 to 20, between the parties. Many Virginia lawmakers had hoped to avoid conflict after last year’s divisions over a bill requiring ultrasounds for women seeking abortions cast a harsh light on the state nationally.
One displeased official is Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, who needs Democratic support as he seeks to enact ambitious proposals on transportation and education in his last year in office. “This is not an issue that I advocated,” Mr. McDonnell told reporters on Tuesday. “I certainly don’t think that’s a good way to do business.”
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling also opposed his party’s move. “He is concerned that it could create a hyperpartisan atmosphere,” said Mr. Bolling’s spokeswoman, Ibbie Hedrick.
Republicans who pushed through the map said it was needed to right historic wrongs. Although 19 percent of Virginia’s population is black, according to the census, and President Obama carried the state twice, only 5 of the 40 state senators are black. All represent districts drawn with black majorities in 1991. Since then, no other district has sent an African-American to the Senate.
The leader of the new effort, Senator John C. Watkins, said that in creating a sixth district in Southern Virginia with a black majority, the state would be protected from litigation under the Voting Rights Act. “No one can dispute that racially polarized voting is present in Virginia,” Mr. Watkins said on the Senate floor on Monday, according to a transcript of the proceedings.
Senator Richard L. Saslaw, the Democratic minority leader, used an expletive to describe Republican concerns for black voters. He said Republicans blocked efforts in 2011 to create a new Congressional district with a high percentage of blacks.
Mr. Saslaw, who is known for not holding back, said that on the Senate floor he compared the Republican move to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Both Republicans and Democrats, he said, have traditionally agreed to map districts in the back room to protect incumbents.
“When I did the redistricting I went to every single Republican, except four or five, and gave them the districts they wanted,” he said of the effort he led in 2011. By contrast, he said, the new map “guts about a dozen of our senators.”
Democrats say the extensive changes passed by Republicans, which are now before the legislature’s lower chamber, the House of Delegates, where Republicans hold a supermajority, violate the state’s Constitution. They foresee a lengthy court fight if the map is adopted. Before then, however, it must get past the governor, not a sure bet at all.
As for Mr. Marsh, who missed the vote, he rejected any notion that Republicans were acting in African-Americans’ interests. He called the plan “shameful.”
***********Hillary Clinton Eats the Republican Party for Lunch at Benghazi Hearing
By: Jason Easley
Jan. 23rd, 2013
Senate Republicans found themselves absolutely dominated by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton at today’s Benghazi hearing. Sec. Clinton didn’t just testify. She owned the room.
Here is Sec. Clinton smacking down tea party Sen. Ron Johnson’s Fox News talking points about “misleading” of the country over whether or not the Benghazi attack was caused by protesters or terrorists.
Clinton answered Johnson’s attempt to try to drum up a scandal for the White House sternly and directly, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make! It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has process I understand going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is from my perspective, less important today, looking backwards as to deciding why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.”
Later, John McCain broke out his usual grandstanding for the television cameras and tried to blame the administration for the lack of security and military assistance in Libya, and he was slapped with some facts by Sec. Clinton.
Clinton replied to McCain, “With respect to helping the Libyans, and that also goes to the question Sen. Rubio asked, we will provide a list of everything we were doing and were attempting to do, but I will also tell you that since March 2011 congressional holds have been placed for many months for aid to Libya. We’ve had frequent congressional complaints. Why are we doing anything for Libya? It is a wealthy country. It has oil. Disagreement from some sources that we should have never been part of any UN mission in Libya. Currently, the House has holds on bilateral security assistance, on other kinds of support, for anti-terrorism assistance. So we gotta get our act together between the administration and the congress.”
This is the hearing that Republicans have been waiting for, and so far Sec. Clinton has absolutely eaten them alive. They have failed in their goal of pinning the failure of leadership badge on her in order to damage any potential 2016 presidential candidacy, and they have failed to turn this into the broader White House scandal that they so desperately crave.
As a former senator, Sec. Clinton understands the egos and grandstanding associated with these types of hearings. At times she looked flat out bored while Republicans droned on and on with their Fox News talking points and hints of conspiracies.
Sec. Clinton took responsibility for what happened, but also was very moving as she shed tears while talking about standing beside President Obama and watching flag draped caskets being carried off the plane. In a roomful of raging Senate egos, Hillary Clinton ran the show. The GOP’s past (McCain) and their future (Rubio) were no match for Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton looked like a president at this hearing. She was head and shoulders above her questioners. The scary thought for the Republican Party is that she did this to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They’re supposed to be the smart Republicans. Things could get even uglier for GOP when she testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Click to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TC0AKNQBV80
**********Republican Gov Jindal Cuts Hospice for Medicaid Patients
By: Sarah Jones
Jan. 23rd, 2013
Republican Governor Bobby Jindal announced Tuesday that he was cutting Medicaid services for Louisiana’s dying poor, among other services getting the ax. No more hospice, starting February 1st. The terminally ill will no longer have hospice assistance.
Ironically, the only other state to try this was Arizona, and they found it too expensive in the end. Arizona ended up reinstating hospice. KPLCTV reported:
Louisiana will become one of only two states to eliminate Medicaid hospice. Arizona was in that mix, but has already reinstituted it because it costs more. “You’re going to pick them up and bring them to the emergency room, to the hospital, which costs considerably more than the $140/day paid for by the state for the Medicaid program,” said Phelps.
State Senator Dan “Blade” Morrish says state cuts were a must to balance the budget, but the Medicaid hospice plan needs to be looked at again. “There comes a time in budget cuts when there is a line that you just can’t cross anymore,” he said, “and I think we’ve reached that with the hospice issue.”
Perhaps facing such a budget problem, it might have been wise for Jindal to rehink his plan of killing revenue by getting rid of both personal and corporate state income taxes. Not to worry, he’s going to offset the lost revenue with sales taxes, which hit the poor and middle class far more than they do the wealthy.
Bobby Jindal has been privatizing public hospitals in Louisiana, another plan that has been proven to cost more money because once you get profit involved, things tend to cost more while accountability goes down. Jindal claims he needs to do this because Congress cut Louisiana’s Medicaid budget.
In fact, it wasn’t “Congress”, it was House Republicans, and they were actually asking for twice as much to be cut from Lousiana’s Medicaid budget. “The House GOP proposed targeting roughly $1.3 billion in FMAP Medicaid funds for Louisiana.” Republicans are blaming a typo from Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) 2010 efforts to address FMAP (Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage)funds which resulted in $4 billion more in funding than they anticipated.
At any rate, Louisiana’s dying will no longer have the comfort and assistance of hospice. Death Panels, anyone?
January 23, 2013Democrats in Senate Confront Doubts at Home on Gun Laws
By JEREMY W. PETERS
BECKLEY, W.Va. — Talk of stricter gun control has stirred up a lot of unease here, a place where hunters vie for top prize (a 26-inch LED television) in the Big Buck Photo Contest, and ads for a gun-simulator game ask, “Feel like shooting something today?”
But before Senator Joe Manchin III invited a group of 15 businessmen and community leaders to lunch last week to discuss the topic, he had only a vague idea of how anxious many of his supporters were.
“How many of you all believe that there is a movement to take away the Second Amendment?” he asked.
About half the hands in the room went up.
Despite his best attempts to reassure them — “I see no movement, no talk, no bills, no nothing” — they remained skeptical. “We give up our rights one piece at a time,” a banker named Charlie Houck told the senator.
If there is a path to new gun laws, it has to come through West Virginia and a dozen other states with Democratic senators like Mr. Manchin who are confronting galvanized constituencies that view any effort to tighten gun laws as an infringement.
As Congress considers what, if any, laws to change, Mr. Manchin has become a barometer among his colleagues, testing just how far they might be able to go without angering voters.
On Thursday a group of Democratic senators led by Dianne Feinstein of California plans to introduce a bill that would outlaw more than 100 different assault weapons, setting up what promises to be a fraught and divisive debate over gun control in Congress in the coming weeks. But a number of centrist lawmakers like Mr. Manchin have already thrown the measure’s fate into question, saying that all they are willing to support for now is a stronger background check system.
As a hunter with an A rating from the National Rifle Association, Mr. Manchin gave advocates for new weapons laws reason for optimism after he said last month that gun firepower and magazine capacity might need to be limited.
But now, Mr. Manchin, who affirmed his support for gun rights by running a campaign commercial in 2010 showing him firing a rifle into an environmental bill, says he is not so sure. One of his local offices has been picketed, and even some of his most thoughtful supporters are cautioning him that stronger background checks are about all the gun control they can stomach.
And on the afternoon the 15 residents met with Mr. Manchin in the conference room of a local arts center, they told him that going after guns and ammunition capacity would be much like banning box cutters after the Sept. 11 attacks, or limiting whiskey and six-pack sales to cure alcoholism.
“It takes about a second and a half to change a clip,” said Frank Jezioro, a former special agent with the Office of Naval Intelligence and now director of the state Division of Natural Resources.
Mr. Jezioro likened gunmen in mass shootings to suicide bombers: they will always find a way. “A guy can walk through this door right here with your Beretta five-shot automatic, and cut the barrel off at 16 inches, and put five double-ought buckshots in there and kill everybody in here in a matter of seconds,” he said. “And you don’t have to aim it.”
As it happened, there were at least two guns in the room. One was on the hip of a Beckley police detective who was invited to the lunch, the other at the side of the West Virginia state trooper who stood guard at the door.
Others at the lunch said that laws did little to help even the most violent societies. “Mexico, for instance, has got some of the strictest gun control laws in North America,” said Rick Johnson, the owner of a river expedition company. “They’ll put you in jail for a bullet in Mexico. And look how well it’s worked.”
“I can take my A.R.,” Mr. Johnson said, referring to his assault rifle, “load it, put one in the chamber and throw it up on this table, and the only way it’s going to hurt anybody is if I miss and hit someone in the head. The gun doesn’t hurt anybody. It’s the person pulling the trigger.”
After talking with the group for nearly two hours, Mr. Manchin left the meeting saying he was not at all comfortable with supporting the assault weapons ban favored by many of his colleagues in Congress.
“I’m not there,” he said, adding that he was leaning toward strengthening screening gun purchases instead. “I’m definitely more inclined to be very supportive of background checks.”
Mr. Manchin is just the beginning of gun control advocates’ worries. Of far greater concern are Democrats who are up for re-election in 2014. Those include senators like Max Baucus of Montana, who was awarded an A+ rating from the N.R.A. Mr. Baucus has worded his comments on the subject carefully, bracketing them with gun rights-friendly language, like saying the “culture of violence” needs to be seriously examined along with any changes to the law.
There is Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, who has said flatly that he would not support a new assault weapons ban, and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, who initially came out in support of the ban but has been more circumspect recently, saying in an interview last week that he would want to see the language of any such legislation first.
“I think for some of my colleagues, that’s a tougher debate,” Mr. Udall said of outlawing any individual weapons.
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, one of the Senate’s most reliable liberals, has not said definitively whether he would vote for the ban, instead signaling only his support for “the principle” of one.
For some, there is something else to consider in addition to voters who are fervently supportive of Second Amendment rights: jobs. North Carolina is where the rifle-maker Remington has its headquarters. One of the state’s senators, Kay Hagan, is a Democrat also up for re-election next year.
Another is Senator Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire, who said she had been hearing from all corners of the state on the issue, including police chiefs, mothers with young children and people whose jobs are tied to local gunmakers like Sturm, Ruger & Company and Sig Sauer.
“Clearly they’re going to be concerned about restrictions, because it’s going to affect the sales they do,” Ms. Shaheen said. “But it seems to me there are places where we can come to an agreement.”
Those areas of agreement, she said, are the need for stronger background checks and better mental health care, not weapons bans.
Even before people on opposite sides of the gun control question start debating the merits of new laws, there are vast cultural divides that threaten to stand in the way of any compromise. In West Virginia, Mr. Manchin’s constituents shook their heads at the mere mention of the term assault weapon, which they consider pejorative.
“Do you know where that phrase came from?” said Roger Wilson, a river tour operator and an amateur gun historian. Its origin, he said, came from Hitler, who named a new German weapon Sturmgewehr, literally “storm rifle,” which in English became “assault rifle.”
During the lunch, Mr. Manchin shared a recent conversation he had with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Obama administration’s point person on gun control.
“I said, ‘Mr. Vice President, with all due respect, I don’t know how many people who truly believe that you would fight to protect their rights.’ ”
The senator added, “That’s what we’re dealing with.”
************Proposed Missouri Law Would Throw Federal Agents in Prison Over Guns
By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson
Jan. 18th, 2013
Second Amendment GunSarah Jones wrote here the other day about the unconstitutional responses of Republicans who claim Obama is violating the Constitution. She was addressing the case of Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi. Leave it to the old Confederacy. If you think a person is violating the Constitution, you don’t violate the constitution yourself as a remedy and expect anyone to take you seriously.
But perhaps Republicans are way past concerning themselves with being taken seriously. The Constitution is the law of the land – it stands head and shoulders above state law. Yet unhinged Republicans think they can legislate in their states to ignore the Constitution -while crowing about Obama ignoring the Constitution.
This makes no sense at all. But as I said, they’re unhinged. And Bryant isn’t alone. In Missouri, State Representative Casey Guernsey has introduced the Missouri 2nd Amendment Preservation Act. House Bill 170 (HB170). HB170 has 61 co-sponsors, which is kind of surprising but kind of not, because what HB170 does is nullify the Constitution in response to Obama issuing perfectly constitutional executive orders.
Former Bush attorney general Michael Mukasey told a stunned Sean Hannity Wednesday that Obama’s executive orders so far have been, if distasteful, perfectly legal. This is not something Republicans tell themselves in order to feel better. This is where they plug their ears and do what they want to do anyway: ignore federal law and the Constitution.
Yes. HB170 outlaws federal law and therefore federal agents and employees who “enforces or attempts to enforce” federal laws pertaining to firearms and ammunition.
The bill states, in part:
Any official, agent, or employee of the federal government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule, or regulation of the federal government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in the state of Missouri and that remains exclusively within the borders of the state of Missouri shall be guilty of a class D felony.
A class D felony in Missouri carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years.
The Constitution begs to differ. As Sarah Jones pointed out, the Supremacy Clause Article IV, clause 2:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Ignoring this uncongenial fact, the Missouri bill also states that,
Any federal law, rule, regulation, or order created or effective on or after January 1, 2013 shall be unenforceable in the state of Missouri if the law, rule, regulation, or order attempts to:
(1) Ban or restrict ownership of a semi-automatic firearm or any magazine of a firearm; or
(2) Require any firearm, magazine, or other firearm accessory to be registered in any manner.
So stock up on those rocket launchers, modern sons of Dixie. If the Feds come asking you about them, we’ll throw them in prison where they belong!
You can’t get much more warped than thinking outlawing the Constitution is somehow going to save the Constitution. But hey, they’re Republicans. You can’t have high expectations of the post-Goldwater GOP.
Remember when I said yesterday that the only two amendments Republicans approve of are the Second and Tenth? Yeah…about that. According to the Tenth Amendment Center, “Tenth Amendment Center national communications director, Mike Maharrey summed up the sentiment”:
When you’ve got people like Feinstein talking about major bans and Biden telling us that all they need is an executive order, you know these folks are willing to go all the way. So, it’s good to see these folks in Missouri go all the way as well, all the way in support the 2nd Amendment without any ifs, ands, or butts. The feds have absolutely zero constitutional authority to make any laws over personal firearms. Period.
That’s funny. Really. None of these people were complaining when George H.W. Bush issued an executive order concerning gun control in 1989. His son, George W. Bush, issues executive orders all over the place and ignored every law he wanted to simply because he said he could, and not a Republican complained.
But of course, those guys were Republicans. And white. Obama, they’re quick to point out, is not.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, always happy to advance the cause of rebellion and insurrection, “The bill was introduced on January 15, 2013 and read for the first time in the House. It has yet to be assigned to a committee. But, with 61 co-sponsors, strong grassroots pressure will help get this bill moving forward.”
Oh, and they have more good news for the unhinged:
Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect a number of other states considering similar legislation in the coming weeks.
That’s hardly a surprise. We haven’t seen conservatives so riled up since they were told they had to free their slaves.
January 23, 2013Bipartisan Filibuster Deal Is Taking Shape in the Senate
By JEREMY W. PETERS
WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic and Republican leaders are nearing an agreement on new limits to the filibuster, an effort to speed action in the often-clogged chamber by prohibiting senators from using a common tactic to slow the legislative process.
Lawmakers and aides said the new rules, which both sides were preparing to announce on Thursday, would end the use of a procedural tactic that forces the majority party — Democrats currently — to marshal 60 votes to even bring a bill to the floor, sometimes killing it before it ever gets debated.
The practice of blocking a procedural step known as a motion to proceed, which must be cleared before a bill can advance to the Senate floor, has been used repeatedly and with increasing frequency by Republicans, who have been in the minority since 2007. In return for agreement, Republicans wrested a major concession from the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who has guaranteed that he will allow Republicans to offer two amendments.
The changes will surely disappoint reformers who were pushing for more sweeping revisions to rein in the filibuster, once a rarely used legislative tool. It will not include, for instance, a requirement that senators be present on the Senate floor when they want to block a bill from coming to a vote, continuing the practice of allowing them to filibuster in absentia. And opponents would still have the opportunity to filibuster a final vote on any legislation, thwarting its passage without 60 votes.
Though Mr. Reid has threatened to use his majority to push through changes if Republicans do not compromise, veteran lawmakers in both parties have historically been reluctant to force drastic changes in Senate rules, fearing they could boomerang on them if they return to the minority.
Senate negotiators continued to work out the final parameters of a compromise Wednesday, but members of both parties said the general framework of a deal was close to being finished. Remaining sticking points included how the filibuster could be applied to the president’s judicial nominations.
Some Senators expressed relief that they finally appeared headed toward a resolution on one of the main issues that helped make the last Congress, the 112th, unproductive and inefficient.
“I think this would be a real boost towards ending the gridlock which has bedeviled us,” said Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat.
“The unique thing about the Senate is we’re supposed to debate — frequently and at length. And we’re supposed to be deliberative,” he added. “It’s been allowed, I believe, to decline in that regard.”
Mr. Levin echoed a sentiment that has been increasingly common among members of both parties: because of arcane parliamentary rules exploited by both parties, senators are not able to do the work they were elected to carry out.
Democrats have long complained that Republican obstruction has kept even the most routine measures from being dealt with in a timely manner. The number of times a motion for cloture has been filed — a procedure that begins a vote to end a filibuster — in the 112th Congress was 115. In the 111th Congress it was 137, more than double the number from when Democrats were in the minority during the early 2000s.
In turn, Republicans say they have been forced to block bills because of Mr. Reid’s refusal to allow amendments on bills once they reach the floor, and his insistence that bills often bypass the committee process, tactics that prevent them from having much of a meaningful role in shaping legislation.
“It’s important for us as Republicans to be able to offer amendments,” said Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican who worked on a bipartisan filibuster compromise along with Mr. Levin and Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, all Democrats, and the Republicans Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John McCain of Arizona.
Added Mr. Barrasso: “I hope we’re more functional. I want the body to function.”
Democrats said Thursday that it appeared likely the deal would include one key provision to help accelerate the standard daylong waiting period between the time a successful vote to end a filibuster is taken and the final vote on the bill occurs. Currently senators can trigger that waiting period without even being in Washington.
But Mr. Levin said Wednesday that Mr. Reid would now require that senators actually be present and make the case on the floor.
“Reid believes this strongly,” Mr. Levin said. “You want to filibuster, you’re going to have to come here and do it.”