Schumer Plans Hearings on Filibuster Rules

Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:45pm

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning a series of hearings on changes to the chamber’s filibuster rules in response to Democratic concerns over GOP obstruction.

Schumer will announce the hearings during a meeting between Democratic leaders and the Conference’s 22 freshman and sophomore Members on Wednesday, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

Although specifics are still being worked out, Schumer is planning to hold at least three hearings, the first of which would occur the week of March 22. That hearing, according to the aide, would be on the basic history of the filibuster and would include testimony from Senate historians. Later hearings would include testimony from sitting Senators who have proposed changes to the rules, including Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

Schumer decided to hold the hearings after witnessing increasing frustration from his colleagues over GOP filibusters of their agenda this Congress. “Tom Udall and [Sen.] Carl Levin [D-Mich.] have discussed with Schumer a desire to hold hearings on the various filibuster reform proposals that have been introduced by Democratic Members,” an aide acknowledged.

Despite the hearings, Democrats would have a tough time enacting changes to the chamber’s rules as they would require a supermajority vote.

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.