For four years the Republicans have prevented Obama from accomplishing anything requiring Senate approval by exploiting arbitrary Senate rules that give an effective veto to the minority party. Reid seems ready to fight that situation, as summarized in the Washington Post [11/7/12]:
Reid reiterated his vow to try to change Senate rules to limit the use of filibuster tactics by the minority, an arcane policy dispute that has the potential to become a major flash point in the weeks ahead. “You can’t push us around,” Reid declared.
While he did not outline his proposal Wednesday, Reid has in the past supported a rules change that would limit the minority to just one vote to filibuster each piece of legislation, as opposed to the current rules that allow for at least two filibuster votes. Even when the majority has more than 60 votes needed to choke off a filibuster, the multiple hoops required to do so can take up to a week of legislative floor time.
Republicans have previously rejected any effort to revamp the filibuster rules, and Reid may resort to altering the rules through a party-line vote at the start of next year, reversing decades of precedent in which such changes are done by a two-thirds majority.
The determination of the Administration to follow through on this critical issue will tell much about Obama’s willingness to remold himself into a leader.