Common Cause Commends Udall-Merkley Filibuster Reform Plan

    Media Contact
  • Dale Eisman

Common Cause called on the U.S. Senate’s new majority today to inaugurate a new, more productive era by adopting the rules reform package offered by Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley.

“If adopted, the Udall-Merkley resolution would be a major step toward restoring the Senate as a place of debate, deliberation and action rather than obstruction and gridlock,” said Stephen Spaulding, Common Cause’s policy counsel. “It is grounded in the authority of each newly elected Senate to adopt its own rules. Among other things, the resolution would allow senators seeking to halt action to take the floor and air their objections by speaking for as long as they wish. But once senators run out of things to say, their colleagues would be able to vote up or down on the underlying measure. This is how the Senate routinely operated for over two centuries.” 

In recent decades, and especially over the past few years, abuse of the filibuster has become routine, tearing at the fabric of deliberation and compromise. It has turned the “world’s greatest deliberative body” into a deep freezer, unable to address many of our nation’s most pressing problems. Importantly, in 2013, the Senate took the major step of reforming the filibuster as it pertains to nominations. Still, in the 113th Congress that ended in December, senators voted to end filibusters 218 times – nearly double the previous high of 112.

By introducing their measure while in the minority, Sens. Udall and Merkley join the patriotic tradition of other senators who in years past, while in the minority, have also put principle before politics and offered to reform the filibuster rules. “We commend their leadership,” Spaulding said.

“Regardless of the party in power, the Senate must be restored to an institution that can address critical issues,” he added.