Campaign Escalates in Support of Real Senate Reform, Not Watered Down Alternatives


Washington, DC – As some media outlets report that the Senate is possibly headed for only “modest” Senate rules changes, leading reformers are escalating public efforts in support of more substantial reforms, similar to those strongly supported by the American people.

Legislation on a range of critical issues deserves a full hearing before the American people – not silent obstruction that prevents debate from ever taking place. Meaningful Senate reform, like the proposal championed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM) — S. Res 4 — must raise the costs of obstruction in addition to expediting the legislative and confirmation processes. As the Senate rules reform effort moves closer to a likely vote next week, the Fix the Senate Now coalition and key Senators remain steadfast in their support for a real reform package, not watered down alternatives that cement much of the Senate status quo.

  • Reform Champions Escalate Public Campaign for Real Senate Reform: Key Senate champions Merkley and Udall are ramping up their public efforts in support of substantial Senate reforms, alongside organizations involved in the Fix the Senate Now coalition
  • Talking Points Memo, “As Time Runs Short, Filibuster Reformers Escalate Campaign”: “One week before filibuster reform’s do-or-die moment, its two chief proponents are escalating their campaign, enlisting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the liberal Daily Kos community to help lead the charge… Merkley and Udall claim the Levin-McCain plan would a step backward for the cause, arguing that the minority could use amendments to poison legislation. ‘Other proposals out there don’t go far enough,’ the petition reads, ‘and won’t change the culture of obstruction that paralyzes the Senate.’”
  • Huffington Post, “Filibuster Reform: Union Launches Advertising Campaign Against Silent Filibuster”: “The Communications Workers of America labor union, a lead group in the Fix the Senate Now coalition, is launching advertising aimed at shaping the final stages of the filibuster reform debate. The effort includes more than $300,000 in advertising, beginning with cable TV ads that will run throughout the week of Jan. 14. The 30-second spot, “The U.S. Senate Is Broken – But We Can Fix It,” calls on the Senate to eliminate the silent filibuster and implement “common sense” rules reforms…The ad will also air during the Jan. 20 Sunday show circuit between morning broadcasts of ABC’s ‘This Week,’ CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ and NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’”

Last week, the Fix the Senate Now coalition released a new sign-on letter from 46 national organizations calling on Senators of both parties to co-sponsor and support S. Res 4; lobbed thousands of phone calls to Senate offices in support of real reform; and launched a new online petition drive, gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures in support of Senate reform.  

  • Senate Needs More than “Modest” Reform: In an interview with Nevada public television last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) offered commentary on the status of rules reform negotiations that some observers assess as endorsing only a “modest” package of Senate reforms.

Rather than a handshake agreement that will likely cement the Senate status quo, we hope that Senator Reid can work to realize substantial and actual Senate rules changes. Senator Reid said in May 2012, “If there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it’s tonight.  These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t. They were right. The rest of us were wrong — or most of us, anyway. What a shame...If there were anything that ever needed changing in this body, it’s the filibuster rules, because it’s been abused, abused, abused.”

We agree and hope Senators Merkley and Udall are in close consultation with the Senate Majority Leader as Senator Reid puts together the final package of reforms.


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