A broad coalition of nearly 50 progressive and labor organizations that have been actively lobbying for filibuster reform rejected a new bipartisan proposal out of hand, calling it a "recipe for continued Senate gridlock."
The group, Fix The Senate Now, called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to dismiss the proposal, announced Friday by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), and backed by a group of six other senators, including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).
The weak Levin-McCain counterproposal comes just as momentum for real reform is hitting a peak. The goal of the plan, Levin said, is to stop Democrats from pushing their stronger version of reform with 51 votes at the beginning of the next term -- an approach advocates call the constitutional option and opponents deride as the nuclear option. Levin and McCain propose that instead of changing the rules, which they believe require 67 votes, that the Senate instead adopt a two-year "standing order" that would be implemented with only 60 votes.
But the Levin-McCain plan largely leaves the filibuster as is, while also offering Republicans a major concession -- two guaranteed votes on amendments of their choosing on each bill. Reid has blocked many GOP attempts to amend legislation, as the opportunity is typically used by the minority to push stunt amendments to embarrass the majority. Often, they are pro-gun amendments meant to put rural Democrats in a bind, or other measures that are introduced for the sole purpose of creating campaign commercials.
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