US Senate on right track in filibuster debate

    Media Contact
  • Dale Eisman

The package of filibuster reforms offered Wednesday by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and others is a good start toward fixing the broken institution that is today’s US Senate. And it’s encouraging to see that the floor leaders of both political parties are discussing possible bi-partisan reform initiatives as well.

“We’re particularly pleased that the Udall package would end filibusters on motions to begin debate and would force senators waging a filibuster to actually stay on the floor and engage in debate,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. The Senate’s current rules allow filibustering senators to block any discussion of legislation they don’t like.

As their talks continue over the next two weeks, Common Cause hopes all the senators will focus on broadening, not narrowing, the Udall plan. While we remain convinced that the filibuster is unconstitutional, we think it’s possible to craft rules that give the minority party leverage in crafting legislation and protect its right to fully air its views, but that also protect the principle of majority rule.

“We can’t return to the ‘old days’ of recent years when a small minority of senators from both parties misused and abused the filibuster to repeatedly stop debate and halt progress,” Edgar said.