As U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., attempts to alter the rules governing filibusters in his chamber, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-Ohio, has threatened to kill any bills OK'd under the changed rules when they move to his chamber.
"Senate Democrats’ attempt to break Senate rules in order to change Senate rules is clearly designed to marginalize Senate Republicans and their constituents while greasing the skids for controversial partisan measures," Politico quoted Boehner as saying in a statement. "I question the wisdom of this maneuver, especially at a time when cooperation on Capitol Hill is critical, and fully support [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s efforts to protect minority rights, which are an essential part of our constitutional tradition."
As a result, Boehner said, "Any bill that reaches a Republican-led House based on Senate Democrats’ heavy-handed power play would be dead on arrival.”
Reid seeks to alter the rules regarding filibusters to prevent Republicans from continuing to block debate on the floor of the Senate. Currently, a senator can shut down debate simply by threatening to filibuster. Reid wants to impose a rule making it mandatory to deliver a more traditional “endless speech” filibuster.
Reid hopes to push the rule change through to prevent McConnell, R-Ky., and his caucus from continuing to stall debates on Democrat-submitted bills.
However, the most unorthodox part of Reid’s plan is to force the rule change through by a simple majority vote of 51 senators, rather than by a supermajority vote of 67 senators.
Reid’s representative, Adam Jentleson, responded to Boehner’s criticisms in a statement cited by Politico.
"Putting aside the fact that the speaker’s views on Senate procedure are effectively irrelevant, it is a shame to see Speaker Boehner join Senator McConnell’s desperate attempt to double down on the status quo of Republican-led gridlock in Washington,” Jentleson said. “Senate Democrats are determined to make Washington work better to get things done for the middle class. We hope Republicans will work with us, but after watching them spend the last four years engaging in nothing but knee-jerk obstruction and delay, we are not holding our breath."
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.