When Harry Reid, the Democrat from Nevada who runs the party in the Senate, came out the other week and said he’d block amendments from the FAA reauthorization bill, he took a gamble. 'Filling the tree', as this manuevre is called, is to many objectionable: it limits debate, which is what they love to do in the world’s greatest deliberative body. On the other hand, it may well be the only way a measure gets moved from debate to actual action, which is just what may be needed when it comes to the FAA bill.
But it didn’t work. Republicans objected, and the Democrats responded with a vote on limiting debate called the cloture vote (this is the way to end filibusters). The manuever failed, with only 49 votes on the Democratic side. “We find ourselves in a stalemate,” said Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican. Hutchison, a Texas Republican, added, “We should go back to the drawing boards.”
Reid responded, “The Republicans' obstruction is just another unnecessary and unwelcome delay in making our air-traffic systems as safe and efficient” as they should be. What’s interesting is that Reid voted against his own amendment. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who broke with his party to champion the bill, noted the next day, "we're not through yet." So perhaps there’s hope yet.