News / USA

    US Senate Reaches Tentative Deal on Filibuster Rules

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters as lawmakers moved toward resolving their feud over filibusters of White House appointees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jul. 16, 2013.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters as lawmakers moved toward resolving their feud over filibusters of White House appointees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jul. 16, 2013.
    Michael Bowman
    The U.S. Senate appears to have averted an institutional crisis over the rights of minority Republicans to block votes - in this case, confirmation votes for presidential nominees to federal posts. It is not clear whether a bipartisan deal will prove to be anything more than a temporary solution to one element of congressional gridlock.
     
    After months of delay, the Senate opted to proceed to a final vote on the first of seven nominations put forth by President Barack Obama that were blocked by Republicans through a procedure known as a filibuster. 
     
    Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley hailed the outcome. “The vote we took a short while ago is central to ending the paralysis that has generally haunted this chamber," he said. 
     
    Democrats had threatened to use their majority to change Senate rules and end Republicans’ ability to filibuster presidential nominees entirely. Such an unprecedented move, dubbed the “nuclear option,” would have further roiled a chamber already hobbled by sharp partisan divides.
     
    Senators of both parties met behind closed doors for more than three hours late Monday in search of compromise. A deal emerged Tuesday to proceed with five of seven Obama nominees. In return, Republicans retain full filibuster rights in the future. New nominees would be named for two other posts to replace existing ones whose appointments were challenged in federal court.
     
    Majority Leader Harry Reid said members of both parties should be pleased. "We [Democrats] get what we want, they [Republicans] get what they want. Not a bad deal," he said. 
     
    Republican Leader Mitch McConnell agreed. “A high level of collegiality on a bipartisan basis was achieved. It was an important moment for the Senate," he said. 
     
    But could new brawls erupt over filibusters of future presidential nominees? Absolutely, according to McConnell. “We still will be dealing with controversial nominees. And all the options available to the minority remain intact," he said. 
     
    Similarly, Majority Leader Reid said Democrats are “damn sure” about retaining the threat to change Senate rules if they feel the need to do so.
     
    Political analyst Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution notes that Tuesday’s accord does not address filibusters of judicial nominations or actual legislation.
     
    “I do not expect to see any change in what has become a 60-vote threshold for moving on anything else in the Senate," he said. 
     
    Once a rarely employed tool, the filibuster has become a regular part of Senate business. Filibusters now precede nearly every vote of consequence, and require a three-fifths supermajority to end debate and proceed to a vote. 

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora