Ending 60-Vote Requirement for Nominations Is Right Step

Senators should end their infighting over the filibuster by abolishing the 60-vote threshold for action on nominations and legislation and let Congress work as America’s founders intended, Common Cause said today.

“For too long, a minority of Senators have blocked votes on President Obama’s nominees to lead certain agencies because they don’t want those agencies to exist in the first place,” said Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel at Common Cause. “Americans need a Senate that will do the work of government and address the challenges faced by ordinary Americans.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) appears poised to go ahead as soon as Tuesday to end the 60-vote threshold on presidential nominations for cabinet and other senior-level executive positions. “That’s a sensible step in the right direction and one that all senators should support,” Spaulding said. “But what we need next is comprehensive filibuster reform that preserves the minority’s right to ask tough questions, propose and debate relevant amendments and make its case on legislation, but lets the majority finally get to a vote and do the business of governing.”

The worst thing that can come out of this dispute is another ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that will break the immediate impasse over presidential nominees but allow just 41 of 100 senators to retain their current veto power over all legislative business. “That will guarantee yet another round of filibuster struggles, a few weeks or months from now, with the public interest in a government that works trampled by the Republican minority’s continuing abuse of the 60-vote rule to hamstring even routine legislation,” Spaulding said.