It's fascinating to listen to people talk about the filibuster rule
in the U.S. Senate. Democrats now are saying the same thing Republicans
were five or six years ago.
It's all about who's in the majority.
It seems to be totally a question of whose Al is Gored.
George W. Bush was president and Republicans controlled the Senate,
Democrats used the filibuster to delay the appointment of federal
judges they considered too conservative.
Now that Barack Obama is
president and Democrats control the Senate, Republicans are using it
whenever they can to block the passage of laws they consider too
Non-biased enough for you?
The practice of
"filibustering" means refusing to end debate so that a vote can be
taken, and it was basically an unwritten rule in the Senate for most of
the 19th Century.
The idea was to make sure everyone got a chance
to speak their piece, and indeed, the understanding at that time was
that if senators were using debate to block -- rather than just to
delay -- a vote, it could be ended by a simple majority.
wasn't until 1917 when the two-thirds requirement -- 64 votes at that
time, 67 once there were 50 states -- was started. Most uses of the
filibuster in the 20th century were by Southern Democrats to block
votes on Civil Rights legislation.
The difference between then
and now was that those wishing to filibuster a bill or an appointment
were actually required to hold the floor by talking. Since 1975, when
the total required to close debate was changed to 60, all the minority
has to do is announce that it is filibustering and a vote is blocked
until a supermajority of 60 votes to end debate.
Indeed, Republicans in the Senate have used the filibuster 100 times in the last year, the most in history.
So here's the question:
This rule has nothing to do with the Founding Fathers, or the Constitution, or original intent. So why is it that we are now de facto requiring a supermajority of 60 to pass bills?
not looking at this from a liberal or conservative point of view. I
actually like Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and his idea for requiring 60
votes, then three days later requiring 57, then three days later
requiring 55 and so on.
It leaves plenty of time for debate and then the majority rules.
think we could take all the politics of the moment out of it by passing
this rules change to take effect on January 20, 2017. By that time,
even if Obama is re-elected he will leave office, and every member of
the House and Senate will have had to be re-elected -- or elected -- at
Supermajorities don't work.
proved that with its two-thirds vote required to pass budgets; the
state is virtually ungovernable because of the gridlock engendered by
Time to wake up and smell the 21st century.
Time to end the filibuster.