This is unbelievably good news:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Saturday that Democrats will try to change Senate rules on the longstanding practice of filibusters. Reid said that while Democrats were still looking at options as to how they would change the filibuster, Republicans' use of the rules to force a 60-vote majority on most items before the Senate meant that a change was needed. "This Republican Senate has started abusing the rules, so we're going to have to change it," Reid told liberal bloggers assembled in Las Vegas for the "Netroots Nation" conference.
Later in the piece we are told that "a rules change would be difficult for Democrats to manage…. Senate rules require 67 votes just to change the rules, meaning that a number of GOP senators would have to sign on to an effort that would undercut one of their most useful tactics as a minority party."
While what The Hill says here is indeed true for the present session, it is crucial to remember that at the beginning of a new Congress, such as the one that will begin after the mid-terms, filibuster reform can be made part of the vote to establish new rules. Then and only then a simple majority vote suffices rather than the two-thirds majority vote required at later times to change such procedures. If Democrats retain their majority in the Senate -- as seems even likelier there than their retention of the majority in the House -- they can reform the filibuster then and there if they chose. The Vice President is there, of course, to break a possible tie.
With the breaking of Republican obstructionism in the Senate, Democrats could actually begin to function as the majority they always have been. I suspect they would have made such a change last time around had they any inkling just how unprecedented would be the Republican obstructionism they would face, despite the scale of problems the country faces at the moment.
It's easy to scoff and insist they certainly did know this, but to say this really seems to me to miss just how flabbergastingly unprecedented this kind of bad behavior really is as an historical matter and miss just how flabbergastingly irresponsible the whole Republican Party is being in this environment. I'm not at all surprised that career politicians were taken by surprise by Republican misconduct in the Senate.