Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

Obama: Senate Needs to Change ‘How a Filibuster Works’

Barack Obama

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama endorsed more changes to the filibuster rules in the Senate in a speech Wednesday, remarks that will encourage senators who want to deploy the “nuclear option” again.

At a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in New York, Obama said Democrats need to change “how a filibuster works,” without going into specifics.

Some Democrats want to force talking filibusters, requiring senators to be on the floor around the clock if cloture is not invoked. Others want to reduce or eliminate the 60-vote threshold for overcoming a filibuster on legislation, as the Democrats did last year for nominations other than Supreme Court picks. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has recently been considering if he went far enough in changing the rules given the GOP’s procedural retaliation, which has chewed up weeks of floor time.

Obama made the comment as he was encouraging donors at a fund-raiser in New York to have a sense of urgency about beating Republicans at the ballot box in November. Here’s the full context from the transcript:

“So my main message is one of hope. We’ve got all the ingredients to make this the American Century, just like the last one. To achieve it, though, we’ve got to make sure our political system works better. And, yes, there are all kinds of reforms that we need to do, from campaign finance to how a filibuster works, to going after Republicans hard when their main political agenda when it comes to — or main election strategy is preventing people from voting — we’ve got to push back on all that stuff. But ultimately, there are enough voters out there to deliver if we can turn them out.

And that’s what the DSCC is all about. That’s their priority. That’s my priority. And I hope it becomes yours as well. Thanks.”



‘Nuclear’ Nominations Aftermath Slows Senate to a Crawl

Corker Compares Reid’s Reign to Putin’s

Harry Reid Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

  • richcreamerybutter

    “…given the GOP’s procedural retaliation, which has chewed up weeks of floor time.”

    I’d like to see the raw billable hours for all resources during this time that resulted from the GOP retaliation.

  • ltcstan

    And when the GOP is voted in charge, the cry baby democrats will cry foul, as they always do. obama must thinks he will be in charge forever. History means nothing to him. He might have been born an american, but he definitely was not raised as one. He forgets that what one congess does, another can undo. That goes for executive orders also.

  • marijoca

    Inaction in Congress has been the Republicans’ modus operandi to diminish what they knew could be a stupendous Obama presidency. Only when the Democrats had all three houses that anything of that potential was met.

    Republicans will have a legacy that will last for decades for being despicably dangerous for the health and wealth of the people that they are suppose to work for. They’ve all become corporatist shills for the oligarchs. They should all be ashamed of themselves, and give back the money they’ve received in salary since they’ve been in control of Congress.

    The filibuster rules should have been changed by the Democrats when they had the opportunity, but in some ways they’ve played along with Republican obstructionism.

  • yahoouser1165

    Stop watching MSNBC! Both parties are guilty of working for corporate welfare. Very little was accomplished when the Democrats controlled both houses and the executive branch. Obama is a great compaigner but a lousy leader.

  • marijoca

    I don’t watch MSNBC, I read a lot, and you need to stop watching FAUX News.

    I did mention in essence that Dems facilitated Republicans by not doing enough to stop them.

    The conservative Supreme Court has made it possible for both parties to be compromised but again, it is easy for me to pick my party of choice as the Republicans are nothing but big business and fossil fuel panders.

  • brunsk42

    obama wants the way it’s done changed because he knows he is going to take another shellacking in November

  • Penelope Fisher

    Changing the rules of the game as we go (especially if we’re not winning) is not bipartisan but that is just another example of “my way or the highway” attitude.

  • jb willikers

    Obama is irrelevant and everyone knows it.

  • danshanteal

    He knows something he’s not telling us. I suspect it’s a SCOTUS nomination. Harry left the old rule in place for SCOTUS nominations because He could lose the senate then the GOP could go after a judge to overturn Roe. Now Obie wants to nominate someone in the near future to succeed Ginsburg. That person is his old friend the exiting governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick.


    This too shall pass.

  • musterion

    Any change in the rules would only last until the next congress is sworn in next January. All might return to the previous rules, when the senate has a Republican majority.

  • CiceroTheLatest

    No, if we get a Republican majority in the Senate, I think the rules should remain exactly the same as they are on election day. In fact, we should name them “Reid/Obama Rules” so no one forgets where they came from. In fact, they should in effect until the Democrats introduce a bill censuring Harry Reid. If they balk at that, up the ante and require the Democrats to introduce a bill expelling Harry from the Senate.

  • MarkJ

    Nah, Obama is Valerie Jarrett’s meal ticket, so she still thinks he’s bee’s knees.

  • MarkJ

    Harry Reid always says that after taking his daily dose of Metamucil.

  • boyd2

    Going somewhere besides MSNBC for your Dem talking point comments was never ruled out.

  • musterion


  • Grammie

    Case in point Pelosi moaning, groaning and whining about those mean Repubs, put up to it by the Koch bros no doubt, won’t let her play and rule the sandbox now that she isn’t the House Leader.

    Her unmitigated gall sends me into the stratosphere!

  • JMH21

    I can guarantee you that the first person that will scream about any changes to the filibuster rule should the Dems lose the majority will be Chuck Schumer.

    Clinton actually did his best work of his Presidency when he had a Republican Congress. It forced him to pivot and work with Congress, something Obama should learn how to do. Anytime you pass any major legislation on a strict partisan vote, no matter which party, it is bad legislation and will always bring controversy.

  • Grammie

    If that’s the case I hope we use every possible rule to stall, delay and hopefully kill just as happened to so many of the Bush nominees not so very long ago.

    It is a distinct handicap, but not an insurmountable one, with a media that is all but the public relations arm for the Dems and Obama so I say we go for the jugular. We can not forever play, as FDR styled Stalin, “Christian Gentleman” to the Dem extremist left wing power tactics.

  • gotroy22

    “All three houses”? You are pathetic, lib.

  • gotroy22

    Don’t lie, lib, you get your talking points from watching Al Sharpton.

  • gotroy22

    How did alleged journalist Steven Dennis omit this from the article on Obama wanting to change the filibuster rule in the Senate:

    Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 11:02 AM
    To: Hoven, Randall M
    Subject: Message from Senator Barack Obama

    Dear Randall:

    Thank you for your letter. I appreciate hearing from you.

    I recognize that the filibuster can be used for unfortunate purposes. However, I am also aware that the Founding Fathers established the filibuster as a means of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority — and that protection, with some changes, has been in place for over 200 years.”

    Hypocrite much?

  • gwhh

    You know they desperate when they try this crap in broad day light.

  • maximo12

    be careful what you wish for you little faqqot arm beotch.

  • Rick Caird

    Great, I look forward to a change in the filibuster rules when the Democrats are in the minority. I am sure Obama and Reid will be just fine with that.

  • Deserttrek

    the mechanisms of government are broken due to the corruption of morality and intellect. to make it easier .. obama , reid , pelosi,bohener and more are intellectually void and morally bankrupt

  • diogenes1

    I agree with you, but wonder if Obama believes that he can put a strangled hold on elections such that the dems always stay in control. It didn’t work well in 2010, which I think helps explain why the IRS was successfully unleashed on conservative groups, thereby helping assure his re-election. Nixon, tried to do the same thing, although obviously, he was unsuccessful.

  • yulva

    If the GOP regains the Senate this November, the changes made to the Senate rules will revert back pre the Harry Reid changes. The change will take place after the elections by the lame duck Senate.

  • Fit Forpost

    “That’s my priority.”

    And just what is President Obama’s priority?

    “…enough voters out there to deliver if we can turn them out.”

    Got that, America?

    It explains Benghazi imagery, the IRS smidgen, ‘keep your doctor’ and ‘$2500 reduction’ healthcare, their ‘war on women’ and soon, hiding the truth on VA horrors.

    Just deliver the votes, hold on to power, and see where America ends up.

  • Randy131

    Why did Obama not go into ‘Specifics’ on what exactly he wanted changed in how the US Senate works? Because Obama wasn’t in the US Senate long enough to understand or find out how it works, by voting present on nearly all of the few votes that was taken when and while he actually showed up. Obama works as President the exact same way he did as a US Senator, not showing up for well over 50% of his daily scheduled national security briefings, as he has also taken more luxuriant and expensive vacations than any other President, with the costs being more than double the next highest number and costs of vacations taken by any other President, and has spent more time, numbers of, and costs on golf outings than any other President. People wonder why after over 5 years of Obama’s declared ‘Economic Recovery’ in June 2009, why the economy hasn’t gotten any better, and we still have today over a million people less with jobs, than had jobs when Obama first became President? Because Obama doesn’t spend time on things he knows nothing about, and why he didn’t offer any ‘Specific’ changes that he said is needed in the US Senate.

  • CQQL33

    The demorats spent a lot of money renting drivers and busses to pick up and deliver to the voting places every demorat voter they could find. This in one way they got demorat voters to the booths. These busses were bringing in people by the dozens. This went on all day until the poles closed.



  • richard40

    Agreed. And one more thing, just in case the dems propose a change that seems to make sense, anytime the dems want to propose a change favoring the minority party, specify in the agreement that the change will not take effect until the dems have a majority in the senate. If the dems are willing to back it when they are in the majority, then we can take it as a serious proposal when they are in the minority.

  • richard40

    Obama is ineffective, at least at doing anything that is good. Unfortunately having the power of the presidency and the executive branch he is not irrelevant, since he is still capable of doing plenty that is bad.

  • richard40

    How about if the dems agree that any change in senate rules now, will not take effect until after the new senate is sworn in, and then only if the dems retain the majority. That would be a good test of their sincerity.

  • richard40

    Of course stopping anything proposed by Obama is obstructionism, but stopping anything proposed by Bush was dissent, the highest form of patriotism. I look at the underlying bill or nominee, and if it or they are bad, I WANT obstructionism, and as much of it as possible. And so far pretty much anything coming from Obama has been bad.

  • richard40

    Since the 2 main groups who would stop you, the gov bureaucracy, and the press, are both dominated by dems, it is a lot easier to get away with that kind of corruption if you are a dem. So if your highest priority is gov free of corrupt conduct, the safest way to ensure it is to elect repubs, because any corruption they try will be exposed and stopped quickly, while dem corruption is not, or at least it is not exposed until it stinks so much even the leftist MSM must cover it, and even then it is often not stopped, as we see in the IRS targeting.

  • richard40

    I would like to see the bill for the cost of the incredibly bad dem legislation that did manage to pass.

  • richard40

    Great use of blinding caps to write useless leftist drivel.

  • marijoca

    I didn’t realize that this site had so many shills for the rich and so many people that want the people not to be represented. Like for instance, the people overwhelmingly wanted unemployment insurance benefits extended, they want fossil fuels use to be diminished and clean renewable energy to be advanced, we wanted and got a smidgen of decent healthcare, and many who never had insurance have it and are thrilled with it while, the Republicans have wasted our time trying to kill it, (over 50 times now), costing over $1Million every time.

    Under President Obama we got some reform in charge card interests, one that I’m very happy about, we’re trying to increase minimum wages since the middle class has been decimated and that it hasn’t been raised in years. You think that kind of obstructionism is good for the country? The once great USA has lost its moral compass, starting with the Reagan administration and the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004.

    You are telling me that we were supposed to be silent while the Cheney administration (GWB was his little dog) took us to war for nothing and for their own personal profits, which they did handsomely, and what did we get for it, NOTHING, and it cost over a trillion dollars which we will be paying for for decades.

    The disrespect for this president (and “libs” in general) has been historical and shameful, you are no patriots, you are more like treasonous criminals.

  • diogenes1

    Totally agree with you on this. Also, the Right needs to ensure that the candidates are not gaffe prone (see Akins, O’Donnell, for example). Nutjob Progressives can have all kinds of faults and the MSM will cover for them. But if someone on the Right makes even a minor gaffe, the MSM/Left goes 24/7. So, the Right needs to ensure that their candidates are squeaky clean. It is a higher standard than required for Lefties (unfair as it is). Harry Reid may be one of the best examples of this. If nothing else, vote republican to help restore some integrity and honesty to the senate. And, once in control, ensure that Rinos do NOT chair any important committees; else, we will simply be replacing one unethical group with another.

  • semby

    Impeach Obama now.
    This is wrong; who does he think he has that he get to radically change this nation according to radical views.
    Stop him.

  • richard40

    I am not telling you that you, or dem lawmakers, should have been silent during bush, or not attempt to block him when they thought he was wrong. I often criticized Bush myself. I was merely reminding you that repub “obstructionism” can be equally principled. And support for free market principles and less gov is not the same as supporting the rich, as Obamas crony capitalist support for his rich dem supporters demonstrates. I would also remind you that dissent and criticism is not the same as disrespect, and would once again remind you of some extremely pointed and vile dem criticism of Bush, like repeatedly comparing him to Hitler, and one leftist filmmaker even making a film advocating his assassination. If Bush can take it, and why shouldn’t he, criticism is part of the job, there is no reason why Obama cant take it as well.

  • marijoca

    I don’t like the caps either but the rest is very agreeable to me.

  • marijoca

    That’s what you shills for the rich and the oligarchs said during his second presidential campaign. So many of the points made here by all the conservative hacks are straight out of Fox Views and Limbaugh’s big rear end. Phony morality and accusations at their best. You all should be ashamed of yourselves for working against the people’s best interests.

  • Elle’s Island

    While Marxism depends upon revolutionary tactics, the Fabian approach uses centralized control wielded through the pens of appointed apparatchiks.

  • River Lizard

    Yeah, like Boehner when he changed the rules in the house on who can put a bill on the floor for a vote. Seems Republicans are blind to their own party’s actions. Republicans change the rules all the time as they want. Tell you what…..get back to me when you are sincere enough to go after your own party members for doing such actions before making statements about the other party. Oh that’s right, it doesn’t count when dealing with republicans….sorta like excutive orders…..Bush loved to sign those orders….I didn’t hear any of you scream Impeach him!!!! Silly republicans in their own little bubble.

  • richard40

    The house has always been a majoritarian institution, controlled by the majority. Certainly the rules under Boehner have been no more unfair than those under Pelosi. But Reids changes in the senate were pushing the envelope for that institution, which in the past had ben much more friendly toward minority rights. I think even worse than his filibuster changes has been Reids tendency to always fill the amendment tree, effectively barring any repub amendments to anything.
    On executive orders, numbers are far less important than severity. Obama seems to constantly sigh executive orders that have little basis in the law.

  • Elle’s Island

    The past century of centralization has undermined the foundations of morality and liberty to the point where civilization’s greatest threats arise from the ignorance institutionalized within its very own central governments.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...