Americans Need a Government that Works

In the midst of one of the most unproductive congresses ever, with the Senate girding for a new fight over the 60-vote filibuster rule that has brought business to a near standstill, Common Cause convened a panel of scholars and activists today to examine “The Broken Senate” and discuss strategies for fixing it.

“Americans need a government that works,” said Common Cause staff counsel Stephen Spaulding. “Right now, we’re not getting it and the 60-vote filibuster is a big part of the reason why.”

Spaulding moderated a panel discussion at the National Press Club including Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice; Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America; and Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and co-author of “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,”

a critically acclaimed study of congressional dysfunction.

The hour-long session came just a few days in advance of a potential showdown over the filibuster rule, as Democratic senators seek to break a Republican effort to block President Obama’s nominations for several top administration jobs, including secretary of labor.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly is prepared to press for a rules change that would ban filibusters on such appointments, while allowing the minority to continue using the rule’s 60-vote requirement to block legislation and judicial nominations.

Common Cause is pursuing a separate attack on the filibuster rule in court, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the rule’s constitutionality. Common Cause’s initial appeal brief was filed last month; no date for oral argument has been set.