Harry Reid is Right: The U.S. Senate Should Adopt “Use it or Lose it” Reforms


Washington, DC – Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blasted Senate Republicans’ continued “obstruction for obstruction’s sake,” noting that Senate Republicans "put up roadblock after roadblock" and seek to waste the maximum amount of Senate time in the confirmation of even non-controversial nominees. For example, in 2014 alone, Senate Republicans have blocked votes on 23 nominations that they “later voted unanimously to confirm, wasting literally days of post-cloture time in the process,” as a memo from the DPCC recently noted.

As a result, Senator Reid is again raising the possibility of Senate rules reform, in particular reforms to address post-cloture time wastingSaid Senator Reid yesterday, “We changed some of the rules. We didn't change that [post-cloture time wasting]…If they're going to continue this, maybe we'll have to take another look at that. Just, it's outrageous what they've done."

To fully realize the potential of last November’s Senate reforms and to move toward a functional Senate more in line with the chamber’s historical norms and traditions, the Fix the Senate Now coalition strongly supports potential “use it or lose it” reform in the Senate. Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate to discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. Such a reform would cut down on time wasting, prioritize debate and accountability, and help shift the burden of obstruction on those looking to block or slow the Senate’s progress.  

While the U.S. Senate has made significant advances toward reducing the judicial backlog in recent months, 145 nominees remain pending on the Senate calendar.  As a Senate aide explained to Roll Call, “It’s called debate time for a reason…It’s supposed to be used for debate, not to run out the time arbitrarily. Republicans are making a good case for use it or lose it.”

For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org