The Rachel Maddow Show | January 24, 2013
>>> why is it that everything takes 60 votes now? i mean, it used to be 60 votes was a headline. if somebody forced 60 votes, that meant they were filibustering and that meant that they were taking an unusually strong stand against something. now it's 60 votes even for routine --
>> rachel, this has to change. it's wrong what they're doing because it's never happened before . the republicans just this time have abused the system, and it's going to have to change. we're going to have to look at ways to change that because there should not be 60 votes in the senate .
>> that was democratic senate majority leader harry reid during an interview with me in his home state of nevada in october 2010 . this has to change, there should not be a 60-vote threshold in the senate . and then this was the headline tads in the " washington post ." harry reid -- "i'm not personally at this stage ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold." yeah. also this.
>> if there were ever a time when tom udall and jeff merkley were prophetic, it's tonight. these two young fine senators said it was time we change the rules in the senate and we didn't. they were right. the rest of us were wrong. or most of us anyway. what a shame.
>> that was harry reid on the senate floor in may saying progressive senators tom you'd jaul and jeff merkley who were working to reform the filibuster they were right, he should have listened to their call to reform the senate rules , they wright and he was wrong not to listen to them. they were right and this was today. "progressive senators working dramatically to alter senate rules were defeated thursday when senate majority leader harry reid and his counterpart republican leader mitch mcconnell set to announce a series of reforms on the senate floor that fall far short of their demands. one more? one more.
>> we're going to change the rules. we cannot continue in this way. so i hope we can get something that that the republicans will work with us on but it won't be a handshake. we tried that last time. it didn't work.
>> twharzry reid at the senate in december saying any deal to reform the filibuster would not be a handshake deal. today a "handshake agreement" is how roll call newspaper described a number of the filibuster reforms that harry reid agreed to with mitch mcconnell . wow. harry prooed. yeah. this was the day everybody had been wait forget in terms of changing how the senate operates. and if you hear sad trombones, that's why. on election day this year americans voted overwhelmingly to re-elect president obama four more years. that same day people also voted to re-elect senate democrats and to send a large number of them to congress, more than the rensz republicans . more senate democrats than republicans which put harry reid in charge of the senate for another two years. and the very next day after the election harry reid in his first post-election press conference said that he was going to fix the unprecedented problem we have in washington with how republicans have broken the united states senate through abusing the rules.
>> it looks like there are going to be a number of -- many more filibusters on motions to proceed. do you think -- do you have any plans to change the filibuster?
>> yes, i do. i've said so publicly, and i continue to feel that way. i think that the rules have been abused and that we're going to work to change them.
>> first press conference, day after the election, harry reid saying that going forward things are going to change. specifically, this was going to change. the de facto rule that republicans have gerrymandered in the senate for lack of a better term that pretty much everything requires 60 votes to pass now. that has never been how things have worked in this country. i mean, constitutionally it takes a supermajority to h a president or ratify a treaty or amend the constitution but not to pass an ordinary bill. ordinary bill passage should just take a majority. but republicans have made it take a supermajority. and harry reid the day after the election said he was going to change that. and that wasn't a new promise from him. he didn't pull that out of thin air. he's been telegraphing for months that should democrats retain control of the senate they were going to fix the rules. they were going to do away with this whole 60 votes for everything nonsense.
>> it can be done if obama's re-elected and i still have the majority, we can do it with a simple majority at the beginning of the congress.
>> think the president would go along with that?
>> damn, betcha.
>> would you make that commitment if barack obama and the democrats keep the senate , if barack obama gets re-elected and you keep the senate ?
>> i don't know how many people watch c-span on every given day but i've said so before everybody there. that's what i would do.
>> turns out a lot of people watch c-span and if anybody was watching c-span tonight about an hour ago you would have seen harry reid there not at all fixing the problem that he has been saying for months now, for years now that he was going to fix. tonight the senate passed a filibuster reform compromise that harry reid reached with republican minority leader mitch mcconnell . here's how the great ezra klein at the " washington post " summed up what they agreed to and what was voted in in the senate tonight. "reid and mcconnell have come to a deal on filibuster reform. the deal is this -- the filibuster will not be reformed." what harry reid and mitch mcconnell agreed to today was a package of small changes that will marginally speed up business in the senate and will allow bills to be debated without as many opportunities to obstruct them. it will reduce the number of hours the senate has to wait before confirming judges and some cabinet nominees. but there is no challenge at all here to the minority's ability to force a supermajority vote on routine business as a matter of routine. the problem in the senate , right? has been that they are not able to get anything done. the improvement on that today is that now they're not going to be able to get anything done faster. nobody was ever talking about taking away the filibuster completely. idea was to make it something that hurt a little, that actually required some commitment, that if you wanted to block something it was going to have to become a priority for you, you were going to have to do it in a way that took up your time, that put you in a position of having to explain why you were doing it, that meant you couldn't get on with all the other business you wanted to work on in your little senator life because you were doing this other thing that you had to prioritize. because it was something that was important enough to you to say you know what, america, majority rule should not apply here, this is really important and i'm willing to explain why and take up time to prove it. that was the whole idea. and nothing has been done toward making that happen at all. it will still be a routine 60-vote supermajority for everything. and this is now it for two years. the one baby, baby, baby, baby, baby step toward actually shifting the burden onto people who want to block majority rule consists today of mitch mcconnell and harry reid agreeing between them that they will ask senators in their parties who are going to filibuster if please maybe they would consider going down to the senate floor and please consider explaining themselves when they do it. possibly, if they want to. the agreement from mitch mcconnell that republicans -- the agreement with mitch mcconnell that the republicans will even ask each other to consider doing that, that agreement is of course a handshake agreement.
>> it won't be a handshake. we tried that last time. it didn't work.
>> yeah. it's a handshake. there's a handshake deal this time, which is the only progress toward getting anything done. it's a handshake deal. and a handshake deal did not work last time and that should have told you something. and that is the apex of senator harry reid 's achievement today after those months, those years of promises that this time he was really going to do it. but hey, at least we'll be able to see them get nothing done 23569er now. the stuff that they can't do anything on is just going to fly by from here on out. so we have that speed to look forward to. you