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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Will Today Bring a Change to the Senate's Filibuster Rules?

Posted by on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Sounds like the odds are long, but if a change does come, here's how it will go down:

When the Senate returns on Tuesday, it will still technically be in the first legislative day of the session, which means only a simple majority is necessary to change the rules for the rest of the session.

With the support of 51 senators, the rules could be changed to require a “talking filibuster,” forcing those objecting to a bill to stand and explain their reasons, at length. The current practice of routinely requiring a 60-vote majority for a bill through a silent objection would end, breaking the logjam that has made the chamber a well of inefficiency and frustration.

Among the obstacles to this happening: Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who reportedly has been persuaded to "back off the idea." (Need a primer on the case against the filibuster? Right here.)


Comments (12) RSS

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Eli, you're still around?
Posted by We thought you were gone. on January 22, 2013 at 6:15 AM · Report this
Fnarf 2
Doooooooo it.

It sort of recognizes the uselessness of the Senate as a body, though. Traditionally the only power of the Senate has been a negative one, blocking legislation, never leading it, most famously in the civil rights era, but more recently this anti-power has brought the windy body to its lowest point ever.

Watching the Senate Republicans stand up and show us all what gaseous giants they really are would be hysterical.
Posted by Fnarf on January 22, 2013 at 7:14 AM · Report this
wisepunk 3
One can only hope this comes true. I would love to see Mitch McConnell pass out face down on the floor of the senate from trying to block something.
Posted by wisepunk on January 22, 2013 at 8:21 AM · Report this
dirac 4
The point is that moron cowards like DeMint (one of the rumored major abusers of the silent filibuster, who's now thankfully gone) would never filibuster if they actually had to talk.

I wonder who pressured Reid to back off. At least "backstabbing" Lieberman is not around for the Dems to keep in their caucus this time.
Posted by dirac on January 22, 2013 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Josh Bis 5
shame on me for daring to hope that Harry Reid would be persuaded to do something even marginally useful on this front.
Posted by Josh Bis on January 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this

I would like to see the implementation of Citizen Initiatives at the national level...similar to what WA State has.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on January 22, 2013 at 10:14 AM · Report this
gwhayduke 7
Yeah, sorry Josh, what's a clever acronym, he seems to be another PSINO -- public servant in name only
Posted by gwhayduke on January 22, 2013 at 10:15 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
I would like to see the Senate recognize Corporations as people, so we could do away with the Senate and the House and become the Police State we aspire to be.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 22, 2013 at 11:38 AM · Report this
cressona 9
The filibuster has as much to do with protecting the rights of the "minority" as reality TV has to do with reality.

Once a 60-vote supermajority is needed for any legislation, the minority uses that power not just to protect its policy interests; sabotaging the majority becomes its political interest.

And as for the intentions of the founding fathers, I'm reminded of a quote from Alexander Hamilton in this fine Ezra Klein post, Is the filibuster unconstitutional?
In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a supermajority Congress, writing that “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.”

And for all the people who always say, "Don't be so quick to throw away the filibuster. Someday Democrats will be back in the minority." These people are part of the problem. The best remedy for bad legislation is to win elections and pass good legislation that reverses it. Non-functioning government inevitably weighs the scale in favor of the anti-government party.
Posted by cressona on January 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this
@9, I don't agree with doing away with the fillibuster. It serves an important purpose at times. Still, I see no downside to changing the rules back to where you have to keep talking to make it happen. If you really have the courage of your convictions, and believe that stopping the bill is worth putting your name behind and holding up the Senate then fucking stand up there and talk. If a senator isn't willing to put their name on it they shouldn't be allowed to do it.
Posted by Root on January 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM · Report this
cressona 11
Root @10, I should have been more specific. When I was inveighing against the filibuster, I was really inveighing against the filibuster in its current incarnation. I'm totally for the filibuster reform championed by Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall.
Posted by cressona on January 22, 2013 at 12:35 PM · Report this
watchout5 12
I don't care about the fillibuster unless it's an action that can be taken without having to physically stay on the floor of the senate while you do it. If you're the kind of person who believes that 40 senators can end debate on a bill and then go home simply because there were 40 of them that didn't like the bill very much they should all 40 have to sit there and explain to the American people why at least 50 other senators totally want to do something and they want to stand in the way. This going home bullshit should end.
Posted by watchout5 on January 23, 2013 at 1:46 AM · Report this

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