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Time to reform Senate filibuster rules

December 7, 2012
The Journal

We are happy to see that the US?Senate leadership is seriously looking at reforming is filibuster rules.

Filibusters used to be difficult to conduct. A filibuster allows a small group of senators to block action on a bill, even if a larger group wants to pass it. In the past, they did this by holding the floor of the Senate, talking about their position, or about anything they wanted, as long as they could. If their voices held out they could put a big delay in whatever measure they opposed.

Over the years the rules changed. Now all a senator has to do is announce a filibuster, and all action stops until a supermajority (60 senators)?vote to close the filibuster. As long as one party had 41 votes, it can tie up everything from budget bills to treaty confirmations to presidential appointments indefinitely.

In effect, the rules require a super majority margin on any Senate business, definitely not what our Founding Fathers intended.

Now the press for rule change is growing. Sen.?Amy Klobuchar, among others, is proposing going back to requiring Senators to actually hold the floor to hold a filibuster. Other proposals would limit what kind of votes could be filibustered, such as only allowing a filibuster when voting on the bill itself, not procedural matters, or limiting the use of filibusters on presidential appointees.

The current Congress has used the filibuster more in the past couple of years, than Congresses in the 1950s and '60s combined.?It has become a tool of obstruction, not a means for the minority to have its positions heard, and it is time for the Senate to change the rules.



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