Filibuster reform: "Looks like it’s on."

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Half of the 2013 Senate now supports some form of filibuster reform, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that in the next session of Congress he’d push for rules to break the obstructive GOP filibuster habit.

But what would it look like? That's the persistent question. One proposal is the “talking filibuster,” meaning Senators would have to actually get up and actually talk instead of just threatening to block. Harry Reid is willing to get rid of the “motion to proceed”; Per Greg Sargent, “you’d no longer need 60 votes just to debate a bill. That would force debate into the light of day, rather than allowing Senators to procedurally execute bills in the dark of night.”

Some effective filibuster reform would be one way to block all that GOP blocking and it's long overdue.

Here are a few myths that need busting...

Via Ezra Klein's Mitch McConnell’s five biggest whoppers on the filibuster:

[T]he filibuster was not designed by the founding fathers, it has not been sacrosanct throughout the long history of the Senate, and its use today is not in any way comparable to its use 50 years ago. The biggest problem with McConnell’s statements wasn’t what he said so much as what he left out; namely, this graph, which shows the way the filibuster has gone from a rarely invoked minority protection to a constantly wielded supermajority requirement.

Greg Sargent:

Filibuster reform would not do away with the minority’s ability to filibuster. The “talking filibuster” reform and the nixing of the filibuster on the motion to proceed would only make it harder to use procedural tactics, under cover of darkness, for the explicit purpose of stalling the Upper Chamber’s business. The minority would still be able to block the will of a simple majority on the vote to end debate. These are not very meaningful restrictions on the “rights” of the minority. At any rate, now that Reid has made such a vocal push, it’s hard to imagine that Dems won’t move forward on day one of the new session to change the rules with a simple majority vote. Looks like it’s on.

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  • cognachas4paws

    McConnell's defense of the filibuster is laughable.  They talk about the "tyranny of the majority" and throw Madison's name about but what they don't realize is that, while he warned against the tyranny of the majority early in our history, he later recognized that the reverse was happening - even back then.  He then warned us about the tyranny of the minority and that is what we're seeing with the filibuster - it's the minority imposing its will on the majority.  Certainly the minority does not want to be steamrolled, nor should they be, but they are using the filibuster to basically fulfill what Madison warned of - it is tyranny by the minority.  It is not reasoned opposition; it is not them standing up for their constituents.  They are using the filibuster to wreak havoc, that's it.

    It should go or it should at least be used in a manner that forces these people to actually TALK in order to keep it going.  That'll end it real quick.