Washington DC – Momentum continues to build on behalf of significant U.S. Senate rules reform. As Senate rules negotiations between U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) move forward, opinion leaders and state editorial boards continue to call for the “talking filibuster” and the substantial package of reforms proposed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM).
- James P. Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in the Detroit News: “The modern filibuster makes it far too easy for a tyrannical minority to strangle the democratic process…The Levin-McCain proposal still would allow the "silent" filibuster, where one senator quietly objects and doesn't have to take the Senate floor…That's why the Teamsters Union is supporting the proposal by Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Udall of New Mexico.”
- San Jose Mercury News Editorial: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apparently is close to having majority support for serious changes in rules that make it too easy for the minority party, now the Republicans, to paralyze the Senate. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are not yet committed to supporting any specific plan. By the time the Senate reconvenes this month, both should be backing Reid on sensible rules that foster rather than block debate on matters of importance to Americans….The key is reviving the talking filibuster. If senators want to block a vote, they should have to stand up and talk for hours, around the clock, to delay it -- a threshold that makes the filibuster something to use sparingly for the most important or heartfelt issues, as it was for most of the nation's history.”
- Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial: “What must go by the wayside is the ability of any senator to stall appointments, or hold up necessary legislation, just because….Seek true reform, allowing the filibuster to remain only if senators will stand up and speak for their positions out loud where all can see. If need be, institute the reform with 51 votes. Otherwise, the Senate will not be able to conduct the essential business of the country — again.”
- Battlecreek Enquirer (MI) Editorial: “The filibuster as it is used today renders the Senate majority virtually powerless to pass, or even debate, legislation. A procedure meant to temper the power of the majority has instead created a tyrannical minority whose prime objective is to ensure that nothing is accomplished….A number of reforms are on the table, among them a provision that would require lawmakers who filibuster to actually hold the floor and debate, making it more difficult for senators to hold up business…It’s time to end this abuse and the damage that it inflicts on our democracy.”
- Frank Knapp, Jr. of American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund, in The Hill: “However, there is one self-inflicted structural problem in the U.S. Senate that magnifies both these electorate and policy decisions — the filibuster… Today’s Senate filibuster rules must be changed. Instead of creating a more toxic atmosphere in the Senate, a “talking filibuster” might encourage more bi-partisan cooperation on bills and improve the productivity of the chamber. Such a rules change will create a more functioning and efficient Senate that will return it to its rightful position of influence in the legislative process.”
- Jonathan Backer of the Brennan Center for Justice, in The Hill: “Although Udall and Merkley are the public faces of filibuster reform this year, and while many of the staunchest defenders of the status quo have served long tenures, long-serving members are also on the frontlines advocating reform….There are plenty of good reasons for considered debate over how to ensure deliberative but functional democracy. But filibuster reform enjoys the support of both Senate veterans, who have witnessed the Senate’s precipitous drop in productivity, as well as frustrated new members. Skeptical senators cannot simply dismiss reform as the preoccupation of inexperienced members. Rather, they should join with their colleagues in a meaningful conversation about how to restore the Senate as a chamber where substantive decision-making can once again occur.”
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