EDITORIAL: Restore Senate credibility or filibust

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Senate Republicans won’t end their childish, obstructionist tactics, so it’s time for the grown-ups to step in and return democracy to  the upper House of misfits in Washington.

Anyone who thinks the destructive filibuster antics of Senate Republicans during the past four years is just partisan politics as usual hasn’t been paying attention.

The historical ability for a slim minority to use special rules of the Senate to stymie the majority have served the country well — until now.

Current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, has suffered through 386 Republican filibusters. When former President Lyndon Johnson lead the Senate, he faced one.

The shenanigans have hurt all Americans numerous times by weakening legislation, delaying legislation and essentially and purposefully bringing the government to a halt. While it was clear a band of Senate Republicans intended these antics to end the Obama presidency, that scheme failed. Now it’s time to change the rules.

Even for those who find watching politics in Washington among the least of their worries, it’s been clear during the past few years that the time-honored tradition of filibustering legislation has just gone too far.

Those who vehemently support the Senate filibuster process, who are — at the time of their defense of the process — almost always in the political minority, say it’s a necessary part of checks and balances in the American political system.

It’s not. There are many checks and balances in the complicated American political system, built on the foundation of powers separated by three branches of government. Peculiar to the Senate, rules allow a minority of members to hold up the legislative process by making it impossible to move proposed laws and other measures to the floor for a vote.

Over the years, this filibuster process has been modified several times. The House of Representatives did away with filibuster rules more than 100 years ago. The Senate has pretty much watered down the process since the early 1900s, with changes coming after a period of heavy abuse and obstructionism.

That time has come again. Republicans have unfairly held the Senate hostage for more than four years, resulting in a weakened and unsatisfactory health-care reform law among the long list of measures made worse by allowing partisan temper tantrums.

The timing for any changes here is critical. The new Senate can make rule changes on the first day of business next year with a simple majority, which Democrats still enjoy. It’s critical that they bind together to make clear that the American system of legislation is strengthened by weakening the rules that allow for legislating to come to a complete halt. A more pragmatic set of filibuster rules are better for both parties when they are in charge of the Senate, and when they’re the minority.

What Republicans refused to admit during the past four years is that a large majority of American voters, and a large majority of members of the U.S. House and a large majority of members of the U.S. Senate wanted the changes that Congress undertook. The notion of a filibuster is to slow the process to allow for thorough and thoughtful debate on a measure, not to allow minorities to do an end run on the democratic process and bully the country into getting their way.

Democrats should turn aside temptation to keep rules the way they are in preparation for the day they fall into minority status and hope to use the same tactics to run the country. The Senate must press ahead with filibuster rule changes for the good of every American, and the sooner the better.

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a reader
a reader
9 years ago

It still serves the country well. It is the way that the minority party can get the attention of the majority party. Otherwise the majority party can completely ignor the minority party. Compromise is a better solution.

Frank25
Frank25
9 years ago

Every low qualified and low pay employee believes he /she know more than the stupid company owner or president. And the president with Senate have jawed for 6 years of how overpaid the CEOs, Presidents, and high paid executives are, and have no intentions of compromising. Every time budget comes up, that party waits until last week in December, to pass continuing resolutions during last four years. Newt Gingrich led the battle in 1995 to shut off spending and got Clinton’s attention by shutting down the government. We survived, and like babies Democrats have blamed the Republicans. I voted for Clinton first time, but did not make that mistake in 2nd term. Republican HOuse passed more than 40 bills for budget, and Senate has not discussed them, compromised, or voted for them. As long as the 53% ers outvote those who are paying the bills, this will not be resolved. IT IS PAST TIME TO TAKE AWAY THE CREDIT CARD FROM WHITE HOUSE AND SENATE. Don’t spend what we don’t have. Senate and WH can start with list prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan and add to it until we balance spending with revenue.

voter
voter
9 years ago

yeah — let’s go with the Ryan plan that calls for vouchers for medicare, and to
put social security in the stock market. Sounds like a GRAND idea! And while they are at it, let’s encourage the republicans to mess with the Consumer Price Index
so social security recepients NEVER get a raise. . .all the while protecting the
rich.

Frank25
Frank25
9 years ago

hallenge for “voter” Present medicare, medicaid, and other insurance plans are “vouchers”. Patient does not receive voucher, then go shopping. You make your choice of providers, sign a contract with them, and careprovider does all negoiating with the processing claims folks, and insurance companies. Does “voter” think he/she will get a charge card like foodstamps? Or Welfare? or Unemployment? Just what do Democrats envision as “voucher”?

Frank25
Frank25
9 years ago

PERA already plays the stock market. And all who have a job now can and do join 401K plans. So what would be different with Paul Ryan’s plan? Focus a bit closer than talking points and you find he does not believe Federals should be financing some programs. Also would be nice if federal employees paid their income tax when due. Or Buffet pay the taxes owed by his company, then file for return if incorrectly paid. Common workers get those funds extracted from pay check, then file to get it back. Charlie Rangel owed million dollars on rental unit in off-shore island, bringing in $400 a night. Gov. Quinn and Federals set up a fund in Chicago to extract votes from south Chicago, got them and office empty, funds gone, and no one to account for spending. Sound familiar?