Filibuster Reform

OneSharpeGuy's picture
If there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it’s tonight.

These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t. They were right. The rest of us were wrong — or most of us, anyway. What a shame.

These were Harry Reid’s words in May of 2012.

Most people agreed, the Senate was broken, and the only way to fix it, was to reform the filibuster.  Once the Democrats retained the majority in the 2012 election, such reform was eminent and the liberal press was abuzz with brilliant ideas on how exactly to go about accomplishing this monumental task.

Among the most popular suggestions were,

  • End the filibuster altogether
  • Ban the filibuster on the motion to proceed
  • Ban the filibuster on House-Senate Conferences
  • Shift the Burden on Cloture - (Require the Minority to sustain 41 votes to prevent  instead of requiring 60 votes to invoke cloture)
  • Bring Back the Talking Filibuster

The suggestion most popular with the liberal press was probably the latter, and almost every reference cited Mr. Smith Goes to Washington . People just love the visual aid, especially when a good old black and white movie is featured.  Unfortunately however, none of the above suggestions actually came from Harry Reid.  The senate majority leader instead negotiated with Mitch McConnell and came up with a bipartisan plan that will:

  • Shorten debate following a cloture vote on the motion to proceed from 30 hours to four.
  • Allow the minority to offer two amendments on every bill.
  • Shorten confirmation time for judicial nominees once cloture is invoked.
  • Senators will have to actually be on the floor to threaten a filibuster.
  • Time allocated for debate will have to actually be spent on debate.

The left and the liberal press went ballistic.  Harry Reid caved, Harry Reid blew it, Harry Reid Folded.  In true left wing fashion, the pundits, instead of analyzing the result and deciding how best to proceed; simply chose to pout as usual.

This is my message to the left wing punditry: Stop with the whining!  The left continues to lose the argument because the left is much more concerned with engaging the argument.  Just as the extreme psycho-talking hate merchants have taken over the Republican Party, pushing the ideology farther towards the fringe, we have allowed the most critical and most radical voices to control the conversation on the left.

Perhaps Harry knows more than we do.  Perhaps he just didn’t have the votes for broader reform.  Perhaps in the spirit of comity, he was in fact able to reach an agreement with the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell . What we do know is that in order for the President to accomplish anything in the next two years, we must have a working Senate, and perhaps these concessions, no matter how moderate, may in some way prod the Senate in the direction of progression. What we also know, is that we can get nothing accomplished if the entire left wing insists on attacking the Senate majority leader.  What’s done is done, let’s move on.

President Obama said the following on Thursday:

Too often over the past four years, a single Senator or a handful of Senators has been able to unilaterally block or delay bipartisan legislation for the sole purpose of making a political point. At a time when we face critical decisions on a whole range of issues - from preventing further gun violence, to reforming our broken immigration system, to getting our fiscal house in order and creating good paying jobs - we cannot afford unnecessary obstruction. And I am hopeful that today's bipartisan agreement will pave the way for the Senate to take meaningful action in the days and weeks ahead.

If the President is optimistic, the perhaps we should be optimistic as well.  Pessimism will do nothing except discourgage the populace.