Republicans Threaten Senate Meltdown If Filibuster Reform Passes

| Mon Nov. 26, 2012 10:35 AM PST

After noting that Senate Republicans are threatening dire revenge if Harry Reid succeeds in passing filibuster reform, Ed Kilgore asks:

This raises the rather obvious question of exactly what Republicans could do to make the Senate less functional than it already is under the de facto 60-vote requirement for all legislation that they have so recently introduced?

This is a good question. Seriously. I'd like to hear from some of our congressional gurus on this. The Senate, of course, is generally governed by the rule of unanimous consent, which means that nothing can happen if even a single Senator objects. In theory, this gives Republicans lots of non-filibuster avenues for gumming up the works, but as far as I know they're already using them. These days, unanimous consent is just a quaint echo of a bygone era, never granted for even the most routine business.

Now, maybe I'm wrong about that. Maybe unanimous consent could be withheld even more than it is now. And there are other avenues for gumming up the works by insisting on the letter of the rules for things like committee meeting times and so forth. But is there really very much of this kind of thing left? Help us, Sarah Binder and Thomas Mann! Can Republicans really obstruct the Senate even more than they do now if they put their minds to it?

UPDATE: Ian Millhiser provides a handy top-ten list of obstruction tactics here. The first four are basically variations on the filibuster, but the rest of the list demonstrates that there are plenty of other ways to gum up the works too.

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