Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP May Keep Weaker Senate Filibuster Rule (Copy)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP May Keep Weaker Senate Filibuster Rule (Copy)

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Poised to take over the Senate next month, Republicans may well keep weaker filibuster rules that they angrily denounced Democrats for muscling through the chamber a year ago.

GOP senators remain divided on the issue, and it is uncertain what will happen when they discuss it Tuesday behind closed doors. But several Republicans said they think they will stick with the Democratic-imposed old threshold that a simple majority of votes can end filibusters against most nominations, instead of reviving the tougher 60-vote standard that lasted four decades before it was scuttled last November.

"My guess is even people who might have been inclined to go back are being persuaded more all the time that that's not practical," said Sen. John Thune, South Dakota, a member of the GOP Senate leadership.

Retaining the weaker standard would likely have scant impact on President Barack Obama's nominees in his final two years in office. Republicans controlling the Senate could simply choose to not hold votes on nominations they oppose and would not need filibusters, or procedural delays, to derail them.

In the longer term, keeping the relaxed rule would make it harder for Democrats to block nominations should Republicans win the White House and retain control of the Senate in the 2016 elections. Democrats have used the lower vote requirement to approve many of Obama's nominees this year, and Republicans say that even if they restore the 60-vote requirement, Democrats would just lower it again should they keep the presidency and recapture the Senate in 2016.

Some Republicans have little tolerance for embracing the eased rules, which every GOP senator voted against last year. At the time, Republicans condemned the Democratic move as a tragic power grab that would irreparably damage the Senate and warned their rivals that they would regret it.

"After the way we complained about what they did, it would be rank hypocrisy" to keep the weaker standard, said veteran Sen. …

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