Common Cause Urges Reform of Senate Filibuster Hearings; Submits Testimony Outlining the History of Obstruction

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  • Dale Eisman

Washington, DC–As a Senate committee Thursday holds a hearing on the filibuster, Common Cause is urging reform of the rule that has become a tool of obstruction and barrier to progress on issues large and small in the US Senate.

“The ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’ no longer describes what Americans have witnessed on Capitol Hill over the past few years,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “Debate and deliberation have given way to grandstanding and complete gridlock. Citizens have witnessed an abuse of Senate rules that threatens to undermine faith in our democratic process. These filibuster hearings are an essential component of understanding just how entrenched these practices have become in preventing progress,” said Edgar. He commended the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration for holding the hearing.

Common Cause submitted written testimony on the history of the filibuster for today’s hearing. The testimony details the evolution of the Senate rule enabling filibusters and the skyrocketing number of motions for cloture over the past three years. In this Congress alone, senators have filed triple the number of motions for cloture that occurred in the entire two decade period between 1950 and 1969. The number of cloture motions has increased by 100 percent in the last three years alone.

Last week, the minority used its 50th filibuster of the Congress to try to block extension of unemployment benefits, after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) placed a hold on the measure before the Easter recess, leaving 200,000 families without a paycheck while Congress went on vacation. “The minority’s rampant obstructionism on hundreds of bills and nominations has taken abuse of the Senate rules to a new and unprecedented high,” said Edgar.

“We look forward to future hearings on implementation of filibuster reform, so that Congress can get back to work for the American people without delay,” concluded Edgar.