Below is a comment I posted at The Politico the other day. Considering that reforming the filibuster will make reforming health care look like a piece of cake, radical reform is out of the question. I tried to come up with an idea that both Republicans and Democrats might support. As Republican prospects for gains in Congress improve, they may, just possibly, be smart enough to recognize that reforming the filibuster is in their interest as well.
Mend, Don’t End, the Filibuster
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to reform the filibuster without killing it. One idea I’d like to float is this. For every bill coming before the Senate there would be an automatic limit on debate of 50 hours (or whatever). By unanimous consent or the vote of 40 senators another 10 (or whatever) hours could be added and this could be done indefinitely. While at first glance it may appear that this is no different from requiring 60 votes to end a filibuster, I think it changes the dynamics significantly. The burden is shifted from those that want to end a filibuster to those that want to continue one. I think it would significantly reduce the number of routine filibusters while preserving the rights of the minority.
On the issue of holds, they should simply be abolished. They are indefensible. I also believe that all presidential appointments requiring Senate confirmation are entitled to an up-or-down vote within some reasonable time period; say, 90 days.