Sen. Paul’s Tantrum Makes the Case for Filibuster Reform

By filibustering and promising to shut down the U.S. Senate until he gets action on a bill to end U.S. aid to Pakistan, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is showing his colleagues and the rest of the country just how ridiculously dysfunctional the Senate has become, Common Cause said today.

“Sen. Paul is making the case for filibuster reform in the most powerful way I can imagine,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “It’s really unthinkable that a single senator can shut down indefinitely an entire branch of government and not even have to open his mouth on the floor.

“The Senate is supposed to be a great deliberative body. This isn’t deliberation, it’s obstruction,” Edgar said.

The Hill newspaper reported today that Paul has informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he will object to – and thus block — any Senate action on other legislation until he gets a vote on his proposal to end aid to Pakistan. The Senate’s filibuster rule allows him to make that threat real without even participating in floor debate, Edgar noted.

“At the very least, Sen. Paul or any other senator who presumes to hold his colleagues and the country hostage should be required to come to the floor and explain himself, and keep explaining – without breaks or interruptions — until he persuades the majority he’s right or he runs out of things to say,” Edgar said.

Common Cause has filed suit against the Senate over the filibuster rule, alleging that it violates the Constitutional principle of majority rule. Oral arguments in the case are expected later this fall in U.S. District Court in Washington.