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Sunday, December 26, 2010

An adult voice is heard

Oregon's Democratic senator, Jeff Merkley, is pushing hard for filibuster reform. As well he should -- the way the Senate dysfunctions these days is an absolute disgrace to the republic.

The sad part is, he'll succeed in getting the rules changed around two years from now -- right as the Republicans get over the 50-vote mark. Then the wimps and traitors in the blue ranks can whine, "Sorry, we can't block anything!"

Comments (23)

Oregon's democratic senator continues to impress

Jeff is doing a fine job and deserves all the support and encouragement we can offer. In the short run, nothing is more imporant than reforming the senate's rules. Longer term, if we can't separate money from politics, nothing will help.

If you remove the filibuster then the supreme court might have to spend more of its time hearing objections to the constitutionality of this or that recent legislation.

I am all in favor of having more hurdles to the imposition of government demands (or private demands). Well organized cabals of various sorts have already captured the democratic machinery and contorted it to serve their competing special interests.

Maybe Mr. Merkley could try to characterize various gifts to bankers as evil earmarks. Or insist that 18 USC 1014 means that a home appraisal must not be higher for a borrower-buyer who must comply with an owner-occupancy requirement than an appraisal on behalf of an investor based on verifiable and seasoned rents.

Hurdles (like bare minimum demands for proof) can be a good thing, as here in this case:
Why New York Foreclosures Are Grinding to a Halt. (I like reading this author's posts.)

Funny how it needs "reforming" only when Republicans use it.

The US government works with checks and balances. The filibuster is just another form of check. It tends to make people slow down and build consensus. We don't have any lack of laws.

Funny how the talking point promotion brigade suggests that demanding that all legislation be passed with sixty votes insteAd of majority is "using" the filibuster, rather than instituting an unconstitutional system of minority rule.

Given general democratic wussiness, what matter that it be harder to filibuster, they never had the brass to filibuster even one-Tenth of what the GOPsters have, most of which is written to please them anyway.

I think we should start a campaign to have a key democrat spit in obama's face every day ... He seems to like that approach and rewards it a lot more than faithful support.

Me, I wish we still had Gordon Smith.

"Why New York Foreclosures Are Grinding to a Halt" link provided by pdxnag, makes me think that Suffolk County Judge Cohalan has guaranteed a pay grade increase for all Robo signers. Soon the new Bank VP's can proceed with the LIQUIDATION OF BAD DEBT. I hope some of the TARP maney will start being used to retire toxic waste instead of creating more.


It's Not Really a Tradition!
The New Republic's Jonathan Chait insists. Dodd's sentiment is "shared by many old timers," but it's not necessarily well-founded.

In reality, the current arrangement is itself novel, deriving from a 1970s-era rule change. Designed to expedite the process, it turned the filibuster from a rare tool of passionate dissent into a routine supermajority requirement.

There's not only no basis for it in the Constitution, there's no basis for it in Senate history. The proposed reform would actually make the filibuster more like the way it was throughout most of Senate history.
The irony is that the Democratic old-timers think the way it was when they started, in the 1970s and 1980s, is the way it's always been."

A 'Surprisingly Auspicious' Moment for Reform, liberal Mother Jones's Kevin Drum writes.
On the Democratic side, you have a lot of anger caused by the relentless obstruction and bad faith from the Republican caucus over the past two years. On the Republican side, you have the fact that they control the House, which means they don't have too much to fear from a filibuster-less Senate in the immediate future.
The real benefit of reform would come sometime down the road when a single party once again controls both houses of
Congress and the presidency, and there's no telling which party will be in charge the next time that happens.

Careful What You Wish For

"In 2012 there is a reasonable likelihood of a Republican majority in both houses of Congress," William A. Jacobson says at Legal Insurrection. " If Obama loses, and Republicans find themselves in the position Democrats have been in the past two years, things could get very interesting with relaxed filibuster rules. Even if Obama wins, the ability of a Republican Senate to pass on legislation to Obama--requiring a veto--will be an important political tool. What goes around, comes around."

Didn't Bill Frist propose the same thing 5 years ago and the Dems had a fit?

Didn't Bill Frist propose the same thing 5 years ago and the Dems had a fit?

Not really. Some Republicans, frustrated by the blocking of a few of the most ideologically extreme Bush judicial nominees, wanted to eliminate the filibuster for judgeships only. A last-minute deal was cut by John McCain to prevent this. Merkely and Udall aren't proposing to end the filibuster for anything, just reform how it works (they differ on specifics, but essentially you would actually have to hold the floor and keep talking, like in the old days).

Thank you, Semi-Cynic, for clearing it up a little.

Merkeley's solution, however, is not a solution at all. I bet if you look at the "use" of the filibuster in the last Congress, you'll find that the filibuster itself was not used much at all. Instead, it was the threat of the filibuster that irked the Democrats so much. Senate leadership could have called the Republican's bluff and made them take the floor and actually filibuster. Instead, they caved because they knew they didn't have the votes to stop the filibuster.

What is wrong with require a 2/3 majority to reduce our freedom or take our money?


If you can't build enough of a consensus to defeat a filibuster then it probably wasn't a good bill to begin with. No reform needed for filibuster.

I'm 100% behind permanent Senate filibuster reform (as long as it starts in 2013).

Garage Wine, respectfully, did you read the Q-and-A with Merkley that Jack linked to? The point of the Senator's suggested change is that under the current rules, there IS NO BLUFF TO BE CALLED. As it stands, if Harry Reid can't round up 60 votes, he can't move legislation to the floor. The other side doesn't have to get up there and talk continuously; that's myth. All they need to do is suggest the absence of a quorum. The dramatics we think of as filibustering over the years -- reading from the phone book, Strom Thurmond going on for 24+ hours -- came because those senators WANTED to draw attention to themselves. But they didn't have to talk, and in filibustering now the Republicans don't have to talk. Merkley's rule change would force them to. It would, in fact, make it possible to call their bluff.

Second try...

Funny how it needs "reforming" only when Republicans use it

It needs reform because Republicans are filibustering almost *everything* in the Senate. They have abdicated all responsibility they might have had to share in federal governance.

They've set a record for obstruction. They have little to no interest in acting in a bipartisan fashion.

They're not even actually filibustering. The Senate now simply requires 60 votes to do anything. That really stinks no matter which party is in power.

The difference between "getting things done" and "changing the rules" seems to go unnoticed.

Jeff Merkley has been active in reform on several fronts. For another example, here's a long excerpt from Matt Taibbi regarding "the Merkley-Levin across-the-board ban on risky proprietary trading":

It is not easy for the junior senator from OR to take on established power within his party as well as others with large stakes in maintaining the status quo.

How about living in a real democracy and getting rid of the Senate altogether. Nothing much more than a club of pretentious, entitled windbags whose only function seems to be to obstruct the will of the people. If 50% plus one want a law and the law is constitutional then it should pass. The time for letting a minority hold the rest of us hostage should have passed a long time ago.

The Supreme Court has already ruled the Senate can set its own rules, so there's no question of constitutionality of either the "real" filibuster or the current Senate rule on limiting debate.

Ironically, Merkley's rule change is likely to be filibustered.

Snap out of it!

The vets always let a new guy make noise for a while on some reform or other to look “progressive” for the rubes back home.

The Senate performs exactly the way its members want it to perform.

Every player in the Charade knows his or her part – including NEW GUY.

Nothing will change.

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