FLASHBACK: Reid Says Effort to Curtail Filibuster ‘Is About the Arrogance of Power’

November 27, 2012 - 11:12 AM

Harry Reid-Health Care

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

(CNSNews.com) -- In 2005, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that a plan by Republican Senate leaders to end the use of filibusters against presidential judicial nominations demonstrated "the arrogance of power."

“Rather than changing the Senate rules, shouldn’t we be concerned about the largest deficits in the history of the world?” Reid asked at a March 15, 2005 event entitled “Rally to Save the Courts.”

“This is not about judges, it’s about the arrogance of power,” Reid said.

On Jan. 4, 2005, at the start of the 109th Congress, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) expressed support for changing Senate rules related to judicial nominations if Senate Democrats continued to filibuster President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.

Frist specifically called for changing the rules to allow a simple majority of 51 senators to end debate on a judicial nominee and bring the nomination to a confirmation vote in the full Senate. Under the existing rule, a two-thirds vote is needed to break a filibuster, including one against a judicial nominee.

In May 2005, the so-called “Gang of 14” made up of Democratic and Republican senators agreed to break with party leadership. These Democrats said they would no longer filibuster nominees except under "extraordianry circumstances," and the Republicans said they would not support changing the Senate rules.

Reid, now the Senate Majority Leader, has said he plans to try to change the filibuster rule in the incoming Congress to stop Republicans from using a  filibuster to prevent the initial debate of a bill. But Reid says he will not try to change the rule to stop the final passage of a bill with a filibuster.

"We're going to follow the rules to make a couple of minor changes to make this place more efficient, and that's what the Senate has always been about, is revising itself to become more efficient," Reid said on Monday, Nov. 26.