Hans von Spakovsky in his column “How Harry Reid Is Trying to End Debate in the Senate” writes, “The latest salvo in the Senate’s procedural war was fired yesterday when Senator Chuck Grassley (R—Iowa) introduced a resolution to limit abuse of the cloture rule—a practice frequently employed by Sen. Harry Reid (D–Nev.). Grassley was joined by at least 25 other GOP senators in sponsoring the “Stop Cloture Abuse Resolution.”
Most Americans have a limited understanding about the use of cloture in the Senate. Indeed, any familiarity with cloture comes from the claim that Republicans have been filibustering the president’s nominees. Taking advantage of this misconception, Reid recently barreled through a change in the cloture rule. As a result of Reid’s gambit, ending debate and a filibuster on executive branch nominees now only requires 51 votes; previously, 60 votes were needed.
In the past, cloture motions were usually filed only after a nomination or a bill had been debated on the floor of the Senate and members wanted to end the debate. Sen. Reid, however, has been filing cloture motions on bills and nominations the moment the Senate takes them up—before a single word has been spoken or any amendments have been proposed or discussed.
In other words, Reid has been filing cloture motions to prevent debate, not end it. The majority leader’s actions constitute both an abuse of the long tradition of extended debate in the Senate, and a warped attempt to mislead the public. Reid has made many speeches, both on the floor of the Senate, and outside its chambers, complaining about Republican obstructionism and bemoaning the large number of cloture motions he has been “forced” to file to supposedly end Republican filibusters.