Filibuster reform: Merkley gathers more Senators

Carla Axtman

Filibuster reform: Merkley gathers more Senators

Photo by Carla Axtman

In what appears to be an effort to jump start filibuster reform, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley looks to be gathering some mo-jo'd partners for the cause. Earlier today, Merkley launched a petition that is set to apply pressure on the Senate to get board the train--or get run over by Americans who are clamoring for it.

Most noteably, newly minted Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren has jumped in with a full commitment. Warren has a high national profile with progressives. It's great to see her continue her ongoing working relationship with Merkley. I was fortunate enough a few years ago to hear Merkley & Warren speak together on a panel at Netroots Nation. I approached Ms. Warren after the panel and asked her about her impressions of Merkley. "He's the real deal", she said. This is a foundational partnership that has the potential to truly make a difference in the U.S. Senate.

Along with Warren, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) are working their list and their contacts to build a head of steam for reform.

If you haven't signed yet, do so now. It's time to put the US Senate on notice that obstructionism is over--and Americans are serious about the Senate getting about the business of the country.

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    well, good for jeff merkley.

    major irony, though:

    filibuster reform was needed 4 years ago. it won't be worth much right now* since the republicans control the house. when the repubs to take over in 2016, it's only going to hurt the dems ability to block the horrible legislation that will come. oh well...

    *it will help with judicial confirmations.

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      I suspect you haven't read the reform package. This isn't an elimination of the filibuster. It'll still be there.

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        i have read it. it looks like a good set of reforms, more true to the intent of the filibuster. but also difficult to take advantage of and use routinely.

        i was just noting a potential irony.

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      "when the repubs to take over in 2016..."

      I thought they were supposed to win back the senate in 2012.

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      How do you figure the Republicans take back the Senate? They would need to flip six seats while losing none of their own. It's certainly possible if the teabaggers would stop sabotaging Republican primaries ... but I don't think that's very likely.

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        yeah, you might be right. i'm not really an election prognosticator.

        i glanced at the races and went by gut feeling: dems have 20, repubs have 13. repubs seats all looked pretty safe. a ~half-dozen of the dem seats are new senators in conservative states, plus some potential retirees (rockerfeller, warner). add in what is likely to be a pretty grim economy, and off cycle demographics, and things aren't looking too promising to me.

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          That's why I think it's possible -- if every race that might break in favor of Republicans does so. But in 2010 and this year, the Tea Party knocked out several sure-fire winning Republicans and replaced them with losers.

          Unless the teabaggers either sit out the primaries or discover previously unmined veins of pragmatism ... they might very well piss away another three or four seats that Republicans could otherwise win.

          If Collins gets primaried by a tea partier, there's a likely pick-up for Team Blue in Maine. McConnell might be vulnerable as well even if he isn't primaried; there's no shortage of Kentucky Democrats with current/recent proven ability to win a statewide race.

          I'm not an election prognosticator either. But unless the teabaggers collectively step down and let the Republican establishment pick all the candidates in potentially close races, I don't think the Repubs will get the kind of winning streak they'll need to control the Senate.

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    Here's an explanation of the proposed reform:

    "The critical component, though, is a mechanism that would force senators to physically take the floor and speak in order to maintain opposition to legislation. The effort to end a filibuster is called a cloture motion. Under the proposed rules, if a cloture vote failed to win a simple majority, the bill would be killed and the Senate would move to new business. But if it won a majority -- though less than a supermajority of 60 -- the bill would remain on the floor for any senator who wished to opine on it. If at some point no senator rose to speak, after given several chances to do so, a new vote would be called -- and only a simple majority would be needed to pass it."

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