Grayson: Require 55 votes to invoke cloture, not 60.
Alan Grayson launched a website over the weekend for people to sign a petition to Harry Reid to change the rules of the Senate. The new rule would require only 55 votes to invoke cloture instead of 60.
Why should launching wars and cutting taxes for the rich require only 50 votes while saving lives requires 60?
Join me in calling for an end to this unfair system. Tell Majority Leader Reid to modify the rules of the Senate to require only 55 votes to invoke cloture instead of 60. Fill out the form below to sign the petition today!
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
Our party was elected in 2008 with a mandate from the country for major change, from saving the economy to fixing health care. Since then, the House of Representatives has worked hard to pass this ambitious agenda, only to see it stalled by no-mongering Republicans in the Senate. Just the list of bills passed by the House and now waiting in the Senate runs to three pages, single-spaced.
The Senate argues this is a result of their different procedures. The House requires a majority vote to pass legislation, while the Senate supposedly requires a supermajority of 60. But this rule of legislative procedure apparently only applies to Democratic initiatives that help ordinary people. Throughout the administration of President George W. Bush, the Senate passed much of its key legislation by majority vote:
* The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 passed 54-44 * The Energy Policy Act of 2003 passed 57-40 * The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 passed 51-49 * The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 passed 54-44 * The FY2006 budget resolution and Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 passed 52-47 * The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act passed 55-45 * The FY2007 budget resolution passed 51-49
Today, under the administration of President Barack Obama, the House has passed bills preventing climate destruction and reforming our broken health care system, while the Senate searches for 60 votes in the face of Republican obstruction. Every day the Senate delays, more people die from lack of health care.
The filibuster should apply to the initiatives of both parties or to neither. Why should launching wars, and cutting taxes for the rich, require only 51 votes while saving lives requires 60?
Since the Democrats regained control of the Senate, Republicans have abused the filibuster rule like never before. Until 1970, no session of Congress had more than ten votes on cloture to end a filibuster. Until 2007, the record was 58. But since Democrats regained control of the Senate, filibusters have skyrocketed. The last session had a new record of 112.
The filibuster does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. If the Founding Fathers had wanted it, they would have included it. Instead, this undemocratic rule allows small-state Senators representing as little as 11 percent of the country to thwart the will of the other 89 percent. In 1975, the Senate reduced the number of votes needed to end a filibuster from 67 to 60. Now, with the Party of No blocking majority rule on virtually everything the country needs, we need to do it again.
We therefore call upon you to end this unfair system by using your power as Majority Leader to modify the rules of the Senate, to require only 55 votes to invoke cloture instead of 60. Only by doing so can we end delay that has held up so much crucial legislation, and enact the agenda that we promised the American people that we would enact.
9. There is no such thing as a "real filibuster" anymore.
There's no Mr. Smith Goes to Washington scene of Senators reading from the phone book.
Instead, it's one Republican showing up, saying "I suggest the absence of a quorum," and all the Democrats have to be there to show that at least 50 Senators are in the chambers, otherwise, the Senate is adjourned, and the chamber sits empty. Filibustering is easy for the Republicans.
Maybe if the Senate rules were changed so filibusters were harder, so they required a senator to actually be speaking in order to leave debate open, or they fixed the rule that allowed for unlimited debate which the filibuster games to begin with (instead of unlimited debate requiring a supermajority cloture, make it a supermajority to close a debate in the first 72 hours, then after that, make it a simple majority vote), then we can prevent douchebag minorities from hijacking the Senate to thwart the will of the majority.
And before anybody objects and says the filibuster can be used for good, let me ask: Where? Where was the filibuster of the PATRIOT Act? Where was the filibuster of the Iraq War Authorization, or of Alito & Roberts, or of FISA? Filibusters work for the right wing and for the corporate puppetmasters. They're a ridiculously poor tool for defending freedom and democracy.
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