Mr. Smith stays in Washington
Senators reached an agreement Thursday to reform filibuster rules to ease some gridlock but left in place the historic speaking filibuster rules featured in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Chief among the complaints that lead to the rule’s restructuring, Democrats say they were blocked from beginning debate on most measures, Republicans say they were rarely allowed to amend legislation almost always authored by the majority party.
According to the National Journal the new rules allow Democrats to skip a procedural vote called the “motion to proceed” to begin debate on a bill, and in exchange Republicans will be allowed an opportunity to amend the legislation.
Senate rules like the filibuster can only be changed with a 51-vote majority on the first day of the session.
Interestingly, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) used an obscure procedure to filibuster the calendar to technically keep the Senate in session for one day, over a 21-day period, in order to change the filibuster rule.