Since Obama was elected President the minority party has chosen to use the filibuster rule to dismantle 223 years of representative democracy. Take a look at this graph that Rachel Maddow posted to her blog in November of last year.
At first glance it may appear that there was some progress during the 112th Congress as the number of filibusters declined but that decrease was only as a result of the GOP-led House passing far-right bills the Senate didn’t care to pass. The 112th Congress had the third most filibusters of any Congress, ever.
Most observers are in agreement that the filibuster rule needs to be reformed. The question is how?
Sensible suggestions have come from Senators Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall and Elizabeth Warren:
- eliminate the filibuster on the motions to proceed to votes
- reduce debate on nominees from 30 hours to two hours (after the filibuster was broken)
- make it easier to establish a conference committee
- require anyone who filibusters to actually stand up & talk for as long as needed to block the vote
The only impediment to these reasonable suggestions is a rival plan with none of the filibuster-shortening reforms, from Senators John McCain and Carl Levin.
For this Congress to succeed in getting Americans back to work, reforming immigration, passing sensible gun protection laws, investing in education, protecting Social Security and Medicare, cutting spending on unnecessary military procurements, and advancing a progressive agenda is to convince the wafflers to enact real reform that includes a full talking filibuster. Other proposals don’t go far enough, and won’t change the culture of obstruction that paralyzes the Senate.
Your grassroots support today is critical. We encourage you to put pressure on our Californian senators. Consider this recent editorial from the San Jose Mercury News
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are not yet committed to supporting any specific plan. By the time the Senate reconvenes this month, both should be backing sensible rules that foster rather than block debate on matters of importance to Americans. […]
Feinstein’s only commitment on filibuster reform so far is to ban filibusters to prevent a bill or a judicial nominee from even coming to the floor for debate.
That’s important, but without making filibusters more burdensome to carry out, it won’t change anything. They can still stop a vote on each nominee.
Reid seems intent on accomplishing real reform. California’s Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer should have his back.
- Outside pressure for real filibuster reform building (dailykos.com)
- Merkley’s filibuster reform fight gets pushed back to late January (oregonlive.com)
- Only Two More Democrats Needed in the Senate To Pass Filibuster Reform (classwarfareexists.com)
- Two freshmen Democrats wobbly now on the talking filibuster (dailykos.com)
- READ: John McCain’s filibuster reform (washingtonpost.com)
- Make A Call To Help End Republican Filibuster Obstruction (ourfuture.org)
- Filibuster Day Of Action Thursday – Call Senators (ourfuture.org)