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Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:08 AM

The false hope of filibuster reform


Nothing that Democrats are proposing will change the fact that it takes 60 votes to do anything in today's Senate

BY STEVE KORNACKI


Democrats are poised to change the Senate’s filibuster rules and Republicans are freaking out, but it’s all much ado about nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn’t detailed his precise reform proposal yet, but it’s likely to feature two main components: (1) Eliminating filibusters on the motion to proceed – meaning that it would take a simple majority vote to bring a bill to the floor for debate; and (2) forcing senators who want to block legislation to engage in actual talking filibusters.

But in an exchange on the Senate floor with an exercised Mitch McConnell Monday afternoon, Reid went out of his way to stress that “we’re not trying to get rid of the filibuster.” Which is why life in the Senate as we’ve come to know it isn’t going to suddenly change in January when Democrats use the “constitutional option” to change the filibuster rules with a simple majority vote.

The need for reform is obvious. Filibustering has evolved over the years in a way that has rendered the Senate utterly dysfunctional. It used to be the tactic of last resort for a committed minority, used only on major legislation; today it’s a routine tool of obstruction. Both parties deserve some blame for this transformation, but it’s Republicans who have taken the practice to new heights in the Obama era. Functionally, it now takes 60 votes to pass any meaningful legislation in the Senate.

-snip-

read more:
http://www.salon.com/2012/11/27/the_false_hope_of_filibuster_reform/

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Reply The false hope of filibuster reform (Original post)
DonViejo Nov 2012 OP
no_hypocrisy Nov 2012 #1
sadbear Nov 2012 #2
union_maid Nov 2012 #3
UCmeNdc Nov 2012 #4
Proud Liberal Dem Nov 2012 #5

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:24 AM

1. If a "committed minority" of the Senate is against the proposition of any bill,

let him/her/them get on the Senate floor and do some old fashioned oration and get on the record. Let them try to persuade their brethren of their protests against the bill being debated. Let their words be recorded for posterity.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:41 AM

2. The filibuster should be political theatre first, procedural second.

If there is no theatre, as there is now, voters can't see who's holding things up and they're not held accountable.

Even if 60 votes are still required, voters can now see who's to blame for the lack of progress. That is an improvement.

(And if we fuck things up and are put in the minority again, we'll still have it at our disposal, too.)

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:48 PM

3. I don't think that's false hope

I think if Reid can get those changes made it'll be a very good thing. Sure it doesn't mean there will be no more filibusters. I'm not even sure I'd want. Majorities change. But I do think the changes will help things to move along. Anyway, when the Republicans insist on filibustering, at least we'd be able watch them on C-SPAN and jeer.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 03:08 PM

4. I disagree with the original author's argument

Steve Kornacaki makes the argument that changing the Senate rules so that a Senator must actually speak during a filibuster will do little to curb filibustering. I disagree. I think making senators participate and speak during a filibuster will curb the appeal of a filibuster for Senators who want to filibuster over insignificant details. By actually having to speak during a filibuster will put a name and a face on those Senators who are actually holding up senate business and why they are doing it. If there is a constant silliness behind their motives the silly senators will soon find themselves out of the Senate.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 05:53 PM

5. I want the filibuster to survive in some form

but it shouldn't take 60 votes just to DEBATE a freakin' bill! If a committed minority wants to slow things down and make an impassioned case against something, fine. But they should have to actually DO it in the light of day on the floor of the Senate. Actually, I kind of thought that, this being a democracy and all, this sort of thing should be how things are supposed to be. The idea that 41 Senators can prevent a bill and/or a nomination from even being DEBATED seems PROFOUNDLY anti-democratic- but maybe that's just me.

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