Will It Be Bipartisan When Heidi Heitkamp Votes To Gut The Filibuster?

heitkamp-ap-photo

During her campaign for the US Senate, Heidi Heitkamp did her best to distance herself from her party. She trashed her party’s national platform, and distanced herself from liberal figures such as Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Since being elected, Heitamp has made the usual noises about bipartisanship and cooperation.

“I made this promise to every North Dakotan during the campaign and I want to make it again today: I will work as hard as I can to be a senator for each and every one of you,” Heitkamp said during her victory speech.

But one of Heitkamp’s first actions as a US Senator could be gutting the filibuster and clearing the way for Reid to steamroll Senate Republicans with the liberal agenda Heitkamp claimed to be skeptical of.

Right now, Senate Democrats are saying they’re short of the 51 votes needed to change the filibuster rule:

Democrats don’t have the 51 votes they need in the Senate to change filibuster rules that could make it harder for the GOP minority to wield power in the upper chamber. Lawmakers leading the charge acknowledge they remain short, but express optimism they’ll hit their goal. “I haven’t counted 51 just yet, but we’re working,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a leading proponent of the so-called constitutional or “nuclear” option, in which Senate rules could be changed by a majority vote.

But Heitkamp is part of an incoming class of Democrat Senators who have pledged to help end the filibuster:

The most likely time for Reid to use this option is at the beginning of the new Congress. Supporters call it the constitutional option, but it is well-known as the “nuclear” option for the meltdown in partisan relations that it could effect. All seven Democratic senators-elect — Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) — have pledged to support filibuster reform. Sen.-elect Angus King (I-Maine) made filibuster reform a central plank of his campaign.

The filibuster issue will be the first real test of Heitkamp’s pledge of bipartisanship and working togetherness. It will be a little hard to believe she’s serious about those campaign promises if one of her first acts as a Senator is to destroy procedural protections for the minority party.

The party, Heitkamp should remember, that won every other statewide race on the ballot that gave her that narrow victory here in North Dakota.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Mike Quinn

    Lets demonize Heidi. It worked so well to keep her from getting elected. Fox didn’t learn a thing, neither has Rob Port. Too much distortion and deceit doesn’t work. ” Thou protesteth too much”. If the spinners would be more subtle, the Hooplehead could easily be fooled. If you lie about how big the fish was you caught you can exaggerate by a couple of inches, but adding a foot will not sell. Once you get caught in a big one, like the dingers just did in the election, you need to tone it down.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m not “demonizing” anyone.

      I’m making a perfectly valid point about the hypocrisy of campaigning on cooperation and bipartisanship while simultaneously supporting procedural changes in the Senate that marginalize the minority party.

      • Mike Quinn

        The country has come to a stand still because of the filibuster. Republicans would be entirely out of the game were it not for gerrymandering. What is wrong with the old concept of a simple majority. There are plenty of checks and balances without this trick of the losers.

        • Roy_Bean

          When they are standing still they aren’t spending money we don’t have.

          • VocalYokel

            “…spending money we don’t have.”

            On things we don’t need.

        • sbark

          oh….you mean like the methods the Dem’cats used to pass ObamaCare?……….when they couldnt get the “majority” they needed to pass the bill in the House? and then removed the checks and balances of our Govt?………….

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          The country has come to a stand still because of the filibuster.

          That didn’t seem to bother Democrats when they were using it to sandbag Republican legislation.

          Which was just fine by me.

          Broad national policy should only be passed with broad national consensus. If Heitkamp truly supported that consensus, she’d support the filibuster.

          My guess is she’ll prove herself a loyal partisan soldier, much different frmo the person she campaigned as.

  • ellinas1

    Will It Be Bipartisan When Heidi Heitkamp Votes To Gut The Filibuster?

    Written By: Rob Port Nov 14, 2012 10:05am

    Yes it will be bipartisan when Heidi Heitkamp votes to gut the filibuster.
    Bipartisan in her case would mean sometimes voting with the democrats, and other times with the republicans. This vote will go to the democrats and not where Rob Port want’s it to.

  • Rick Olson

    I’m not saying that the filibuster rules need to be changed in the Senate…they probably should be. As it stands now, it takes 60 votes to cut off debate and bring the matter that is being debated to a vote. (Otherwise known as voting to invoke cloture, or to break a filibuster). What Reid is proposing is a change that would only require a simple majority of 51 votes to cut off debate on a bill and advance it for a vote on the floor. Does this marginalize the Republicans? I’m not sure.

    • spud

      Let us not forget changes in rules also will apply to the benefit of the republicans when they get control of the senate. Most likely there best chance will be in 2016 as of now they would need net pickup of six seats in 2014 election which seems like a stretch but one can never know.

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