Schumer mentions possible solution to avoid nuclear option on filibuster

WASHINGTON — In a floor speech Monday, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer laid out a potential blueprint to avert the nuclear option on the filibuster.

The plan would involve Majority Leader Harry Reid allowing Republicans the opportunity to offer amendments to bills, and Republicans agreeing not to block motions to proceed.

The New York Democrat made the comments in passing as he discussed a Hurricane Sandy relief bill.

“I must say, the debate is off to a good start. Our colleagues on both sides of the aisle have shown tremendous concern. Leader Reid has agreed to allow amendments so that those in this chamber, particularly those on the other side, can make modifications, and Leader McConnell and the Republican minority has not insisted on a motion to proceed,” Schumer said.

“So we’re beginning this bill in a very auspicious way, in a way that people think the Senate should work — not one side blocking amendments and not the other side blocking the bill,” Schumer said. “And I hope it can lead to an equally you auspicious result.”

Reid has said that the Republicans have “abused” the procedure of the filibuster, and that as a result, the Senate’s efficiency has been compromised.

He has said he is gathering the votes to change the rules of the filibuster at the start of the new Congress in January, eliminating the filibuster on the motion to proceed so that, in order to filibuster, a senator would have to stay on the floor and speak for hours on end, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”-style.

Schumer is one of a group of bipartisan senators reportedly working behind the scenes to prevent that so-called “nuclear option” from happening.

“Everyone knows the Senate’s broken and has to be fixed,” Schumer told The Daily Caller on Friday when asked about the talks. “It would be better to fix it in a bipartisan way, and that’s what we’re working toward, but if not, we still gotta fix it.”

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said on a conference call last week with reporters that he would be able to support an agreement like the one that Schumer laid out as the “way people think the Senate should work.”

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