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Filibuster Reform is Coming Soon

Filibuster rules are due for a change in the US Senate, and our Senior Senator is trying to make it happen.

The View From Squag City: It is Monday the 21st, 2013. The President has already been sworn in for his second term, apparently without the minor hitch that occurred in 2009. Millions of Americans have heard the President’s Second Inaugural Address, a speech so clear and compelling that even the hyper-critical partisans in Washington can lay down their rhetorical arms and agree to move the country forward. We so desparately need a return to national politics that includes both principle and compromise.

It is a huge thing to hope for, and if it is to happen, the first step will be taken tomorrow in the United States Senate, where rules changes may be adopted by majority vote for one day. Most important among those changes will be new rules that limit the corruption caused by the "phantom" filibuster. Nothing except “unlimited money” has demeaned the process of Senate lawmaking more than the current use of filibustering. The notion that a single U.S. Senator can block passage of any legislative bill merely by informing the leadership of his or her intent to filibuster is a mockery of our democratic process. Yet that is what the rules now allow. The filibuster has become an important tool of those with “unlimited money,” a tool they use to frustrate the will of the American people.

Luckily for New Hampshire, our senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, has spoken out strongly on this issue of filibuster reform. She has lent her powerful voice to the call for new rules limiting the use of filibusters to block actual voting in the Senate. We can only hope that there are enough thoughtful people in the United States Senate, people who agree with Senator Shaheen, to return our upper legislative body to the principle of “majority rules" once again.

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Atlant January 22, 2013 at 02:44 PM
David: > The Democrats have been ardent supporters of the filibuster when > they have been in the minority. The statistics say you're wrong. http://www.flickr.com/photos/26087974@N05/7983998912/
David Pittelli January 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Atlant, No, your own link shows it to be true. First, "ardent supporters" does not require exact parity to be accurate. As your link notes, the Democrats have used the filibuster 60% as much as the Republicans. And given that the Republicans were in the minority for 6 terms of this period while the Democrats were in the minority for 5 terms, their per-term rate of filibustering is 71% as high as the Republicans' rate. It is hypocrisy to attack an opposing party as outrageous for doing something when you have done it 71% as much. So, were they ardent supporters? In 2005, Harry Reid called the filibuster “a tool that serves the long-term interest of the Senate and the American people and our country.” Chris Dodd, 2010: “I’m totally opposed to the idea of changing the filibuster rules. I think that’s foolish.” Mark Pryor, 2010: “I think as torturous as this place can be, the cloture rule and the filibuster is important to protect the rights of the minority.” Daniel Akaka, 2010: “I think we should retain the same policies that we have instead of lowering it.” Jon Tester: “It’s been 60 for a long, long time. I think we need to look to ourselves more than changing the rules…the bigger problem is getting people to work together.” Note that I am not opposed to ending filibusters, or to limiting them to a few days, especially in the case of nominees, particularly judicial nominees.
Really?? January 23, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Congress has never been so unproductive, and the GOP's abuse of the filibuster is why. The GOP is why we can't have nice things in this house.
steve forte January 23, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Oh you can have a choio choo train if ya want. Ya just have to be willing to pay for it. Something that all those who want it showed they were not willing to do.
Dan January 24, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Right the GOP cannot seem to understand that changing the rules is a usually a good way to say that they are a bunch of losers. Their wanting to undo the Electoral College and the Fillibuster rules, both of which gave them victories in the Senate and in the White House, just to get back what they lost, is a clear example of a political party in denial. They must have their cake, eat it too, and then take their ball home and pout like the whiners they are...

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