Nominations Votes Should Be Starting Point for Senate Rules Changes

Senators should be congratulated – but only a little – for their apparent progress toward an agreement to end the current filibusters over seven of President Obama’s executive nominations, Common Cause said today.

“A vote on these nominees should be just the starting point for rules changes that would break the Senate’s gridlock permanently,” said Stephen Spaulding, Common Cause’s staff counsel. “Senate rules should guarantee a prompt review in committee and confirmation by a simple majority vote for ALL future presidential nominees.”

Such an agreement on nominations should lay the groundwork for a broader deal to guarantee robust debate while restoring the principle of majority rule in the Senate’s consideration of legislation, Spaulding said. If it does not, there will be more obstruction, more gridlock and more struggles over the filibuster rule, he asserted.

“Our nation’s founders did not contemplate and did not provide in the Constitution for a Senate in which a minority – just 41 of 100 senators – can block debate and action on even routine legislation,” Spaulding said. “They wrote a Constitution in which a simple majority is sufficient to pass all bills and super majorities are required only in special cases like impeachments and treaty ratifications. The Senate’s current filibuster rule subverts the Constitution and must be overturned.”

Common Cause has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the filibuster rule and its 60-vote requirement for Senate action. The case is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.