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Grayson Petitions Reid to Lower Cloture Threshold

Who needs reconciliation when you can use the real “nuclear option—?

Liberal Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) is proposing a new way around those pesky Senate filibusters — reduce the number of votes needed for cloture from 60 votes to 55.

Grayson, best known for accusing Republicans of wanting the sick to die quickly, has launched another Web site, this time setting up a petition urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to change Senate cloture rules.

As Grayson notes, the idea has a precedent — the Democratic Senate forced through a reduction from 67 votes to 60 in 1975, and Grayson said it’s time to do it again with climate change, health care and a host of other bills having passed the House only to be tied up in the Senate.

Grayson’s petition at notes that Republicans passed the key pieces of President George W. Bush’s agenda with simple majority votes, including the Medicare drug bill, the 2003 energy bill, a series of tax cuts and a deficit reduction bill.

“Every day the Senate delays, more people die from lack of health care. … Why should launching wars and cutting taxes for the rich require only 51 votes while saving lives requires 60? …

“The filibuster does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. …

“We therefore call upon you to end this unfair system by using your power as Majority Leader to modify the rules of the Senate, to require only 55 votes to invoke cloture instead of 60.—

When Republicans were in charge a few years ago, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) mounted a campaign for the nuclear option to do away with filibusters to try to advance Bush’s judicial nominees. Ultimately, Frist was thwarted by the bipartisan “gang of 14,— which hammered out a compromise that preserved the filibuster.

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