One year ago, US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, promised sweeping reform to the US Senate. In a recent interview with SFR, Udall laid out his agenda, which emphasized reforming the filibuster, eliminating secret holds and revamping what Udall describes as “a broken institution”. Nearly every major media outlet reported on Udall’s ambitious proposals. But on Jan. 27, Udall’s reform initiative ground to a halt—stymied, according to most reports, by the very “broken institution” he had hoped to fix.
In what Politico termed a “gentlemen’s agreement,” US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed on a few nonbinding, uncontroversial promises to limit filibuster use and “exercise restraint,” according to Politico.
The Senate did vote to reduce the number of executive appointees requiring Senate confirmation and eliminate the “secret holds” that allow senators to block those nominees anonymously—but most news organizations described Udall’s reform push in terms of defeat. In a Jan. 28 interview with The Huffington Post, Udall cited “political fear, in terms of what might happen in the future” as a major obstacle.
“He’s going to continue to fight for rules reform, of course,” Press Assistant Jessica Borchert tells SFR. “But as far as concrete measures, I don’t think we have that figured out yet.”