US Sen: Today in I Love My Senator

Carla Axtman

Just when I think I should simply write off the Oregonian Editorial Board, they suck me back in.

The change (with the Senate filibuster) is a major gain for Merkley, and for the Senate. It should streamline the filling of important positions in the executive branch, and 93 empty benches in the federal judiciary – a gap that Chief Justice John Roberts has warned is dangerous.

Republicans, and some Beltway deep thinkers, have warned that the changed rule will make the Senate's partisan paralysis even worse, with Republican senators now refusing to cooperate at all with Democrats – and a 60-vote supermajority still required for all legislation. Merkley disagrees, and can draw on two Oregon-based experiences: his successful leadership of the state House with a bare one-vote majority, and his time working in Sen. Mark Hatfield's office.

"I saw the Senate work in the 1970s," he recalls. "Many of us have memories that go back to the '70s and '80s of a functioning Senate."

Referring to George Washington's famous explanation of the role of the Senate, Merkley explains, "The Senate was designed to be a cooling saucer, not a deep freeze."

In 2013, congressional gridlock and paralysis is becoming legendary, with this Congress on track to be the least productive in history. Changing its behavior is not something to be resented – nor is trying to keep its paralysis from spreading to the executive branch.

N. Christian Anderson must be on vacation on something. This piece is actually cogent and not chock full of right wing crazy.

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