Filibuster Reform Needed In U.S. Senate, But Caution Must Be Given To Cure
If you follow politics you are fully aware the divisive, obstructive, self-serving, and vindictive antics that take place in Washington, D.C. are undermining the ability of our institutions to function. The main source of this problem is not in the White House. The main problem lies in the United States Senate. It is also something that most Americans have most likely never heard of.
It is Senate Rule XXII, the filibuster rule. It is working against the will of the people who elect senators, and creates a procedural hurdle that makes it harder for meaningful, and needed legislation to pass.
In short, what it allows is for only 41 senators to completely bring the business of the nation to a halt. The majority of the body may be settled on a bill or nominee, and know that something has to be done, but 41 senators can block the path forward. To achieve madness all these 41 members need do is not vote for cloture, which is the vote taken to shut down the promise of endless debate. In other words the other 59 senators–the majority–are left swinging in the wind.
This is no way for America’s political process to act, and it must end.
Filibuster reform is not a new gripe, and in fact it should not even be considered partisan as it deals with the process of government . It just is a logical need that will allow our government to work more robustly and completely for the people who elected the members to office.
Over the past four years I ask my readers to look at just one area where the Senate Republicans used the filibuster gridlock mechanism to block the president’s court nominees. One does not need to search hard to locate the numerous cases where talented, uncontroversial, and fine examples of judicial nominees were never acted on–though there was majority support–because 41 Republicans wanted to slow down, stall, blockade, and ultimately blow-up the process.
The numbers speak for themselves. At this point in their first terms, Bill Clinton and George Bush (43) had, respectively, 195 and 197 nominees confirmed to the federal bench, while Obama has had just 154 confirmed.
No one who has ever had a civics course, and passed it, can be proud of such results as that which we have witnessed due to Senate Rule XXII.
There must be a way around this mess, and to be honest I am not sure there is a good path to choose, but I know one must be found.
I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to the process of government, and as such am not gleeful over the attempt Majority Leader Reid indicates he might use when it comes to filibuster reform. Using what is called the “constitutional option”, which states the Senate can, on the first day of a session, change its rules by a majority vote. But that very well can lead to mischief by the other side once they regain the majority.
I do not want the majority to control the rules of the body (regardless of which side has the majority), but I also know that the partisan plays from the Republicans have brought this nation to legislative gridlock through their abuse of the filibuster rule.
If we had more sensible moderates from both parties that could meet in the middle and seek out what is best for the nation there would not be folks like me blogging about the need for filibuster reform.
Where are the political states-people of the senate? Who are the ones who care more about the senate than partisanship?
If they are there it is time they rose and addressed the nation.