Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why Filibuster Reform?

     It seems as though democrats and republicans cannot agree on anything these days.  We can now add filibusterer reform to that long long laundry list.  Harry Reid and other top democrats have proposed to reform the filibuster on the floor of the senate.  The filibuster is one of the longstanding elements in which the minority can check the majority by talking a bill to death.
     However nowadays, a bill can be killed just by merely threatening to filibuster.  There have been some very notable filibusters in history which have lasted for several hours, or in some cases even days.  The democrats are not proposing to eliminate the filibuster all together, but rather make changes in order to get the legislation process moving again.  According to the Huffington Post, Harry Reid has had to deal with 385 filibusters.  The deadlock in congress is being felt by Americans everywhere and is a contributing factor to one of the lowest congressional approval ratings in history.
     Some of the proposals by Reid and the democrats are that if someone is threatening to filibuster, they actually have to filibuster.  They want to end this new norm of being able to kill a bill with the threat of a filibuster.  They also want to eliminate the filibuster in the debate for a bill.  Far too many bills are not even being debated due to the filibuster.  This is another reason for the sluggish legislation currently felt in congress.  Not enough bill are even coming to a vote because they are being shot down before they have a chance at being debated.  Democrats also want to eliminate the filibuster in motions to appoint committee members.  There has also been discussion to end the "motion to proceed" which involves filibustering a bill twice.
      There has even been talk to resurrect the "nuclear option" which would get rid of the super-majority of 60 votes in the senate.  This has furrowed the brows of many republicans such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  McConnell does not want to eliminate one of the only ways the minority can check the majority in the Senate, especially since the GOP has made it quite clear they oppose almost all the legislation proposed by President Obama and the democrats.  McConnell, McCain, and many other republicans have made it quite clear that they will not stand for such reform in the senate despite the fact that they themselves supported a similar reform under the Bush years.  McConnell even mentioned enacting the nuclear option during the Bush administration.
     While filibuster reform seems like a callous ploy by the majority to suppress the minority in the Senate, something needs to be done to spin the wheels of legislation again.  The republicans in congress have shut down dozens of bills by just the threat of a filibuster.  Our legislators need to go back to legislating rather than bickering back and forth like school children.
     In an article by Michael Hammond from the conservative blog Red State, Hammond calls Reid "a sleazy liar whose commitments aren't worth the paper they're printed on."  While some may oppose the suppression by Reid and the democrats, McConnell and the republicans have made things equally difficult on the democrats and the president.  Despite how some may view filibuster reform as just another issue to disagree on in congress or another malicious tactic of the left to silence the right, it is a good measure to attempt to get legislation moving again for a nation that has stalled, sputtered, and is on the verge of another potential recession if the fiscal cliff is not averted.  Our GDP is predicted to stay at a dismal 2% far into 2020 and job growth, while improving, is sluggish.  While filibuster reform may not be the solution, it is a piece to the formula to try to get this congress on tract to do what they were elected to do.           

1 comment:

  1. If someone wants to filibuster, then actually get up at the podium and talk, or read, or even sing. The filibuster should stay as a tool to protect the minority-it's the super majority of 60 that needs to be abolished. Perhaps votes of 51-49 will get our legislators legislating again.