Washington, DC – The decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to enter into direct talks with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on curbing the abuse of the filibuster shows the growing strength of the movement for real reform of Senate rules.
Fifty-one Senate Democrats already support meaningful Senate reforms. The Fix the Senate Now Coalition is heartened by the continued momentum on behalf of reform and by comments indicating Senator Reid’s willingness to adopt new changes via the constitutional option should negotiations not result in a strong bi-partisan agreement. As a Senate Democratic leadership aide told Huffington Post, “While these negotiations take place, Senator Reid will preserve the option to make rule changes with a simple majority vote.”
The latest developments illustrate that reform-minded Senators consider the Levin/McCain alternative proposal totally inadequate. As the Fix the Senate Now coalition explains in detail here, this alternative proposal is a recipe for continued Senate gridlock. It lacks transparency and accountability; it allows continued minority veto of all legislative matters; it continues to provide multiple chances to filibuster legislation; and it keeps the obstructionist status quo for many executive branch and judicial nominees.
We will be pressing Senator Reid to stand firm in support of real reform, including the “talking filibuster.” Leading Senate reformer Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) called the talking filibuster proposal the “heart of the matter” and stated the provision “is still very much on the table.”
With two additional weeks to demonstrate the broad popularity of substantial rules reform, we expect the Senate to coalesce around a substantial package of reforms, as Senator Reid has called for in the past, with the knowledge that a simple majority vote will be sufficient to enact reforms, if necessary. Senator Reid said in November 2012: “I think the rules have been abused, and we are going to work to change them. We will not do away with the filibuster, but we will make the Senate a more meaningful place. We are going to make it so we can get things done."
The Fix the Senate Now coalition believes that any true rules reform package must live up to Senator Reid’s vision and include the following concepts:
• Eliminate completely the ability to filibuster the motion to proceed and moving legislation to Conference Committees;
• Require that those wishing to block legislation or nominations take the floor and actually filibuster—i.e., mandating “talking filibusters”
• Assert that 41 Senators must affirmatively vote to continue debate rather than forcing 60 Senators to vote to end debate; and
• Streamline the nomination process including a reduction of the required 30 hours of post cloture debate on a nominee to zero or a maximum of 2 hours.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with Fix the Senate Now leaders, contact Michael Earls at 202-261-2388, email@example.com