About Time: Momentum Builds for Senate Filibuster Reform

News

So we’ve blogged here before about the filibuster:

Vice President Joe Biden said at a Florida fundraiser Sunday that the 60-seat threshold for passing legislation in the Senate put a dangerous new roadblock in the way of American government.

“As long as I have served … I’ve never seen, as my uncle once said, the constitution stood on its head as they’ve done. This is the first time every single solitary decisions has required 60 senators,” Biden said.

“No democracy has survived needing a supermajority.”

One year later — some progress?

Momentum is building to reform Senate rules that allow silent filibusters and force a 60-vote requirement for virtually any action, interviews with Democratic candidates and sitting senators indicate.

Democratic candidates said that they hear regularly from voters about abuse of the parliamentary tactic, which is likely to come up as the first vote new senators face in 2011. The supermajority requirement in the Senate has become such an obstacle to reform that it infiltrates policy discussions at every step. Last week at the Netroots Nation political conference, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) gathered environmental writers to discuss energy legislation; the first few questions were related to energy, the rest of the conversation was dominated by the filibuster.

Read more about why this use of the filibuster is unconstitutional here. (Yes, yes, I’m aware I linked to this last summer. But hey, progressive change is a long-term gambit…) Legislative process, while not sexy, really does matter… to quote a New York State Senator from 1918:

Six years of experience have taught me that in every case the reason for the failures of good legislation in the public interest and the passage of ineffective and abortive legislation can be traced directly to the rules.

Oh, and by the way, in case anyone is under the illusion the filibuster is normal — we’re in a period of historical abnormality when it comes to the rampant use of filibusters. Thank the Republicans:

Republicans in the Senate have performed more filibusters during the current congressional session than any minority in Senate history.

Huffington Post

Hat tip: Kim