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It's a familiar sight. Over the past few weeks, we've seen gas prices shooting up at the pumps.

Due in large part to the uprisings across the Middle East, oil prices recently topped out at more than $100 a barrel, and if the security situation worsens, prices could rise significantly more.

And while one eye watches oil prices, the other sees events continue to unfold in the Middle East and Northern Africa. First, the fall of the Tunisian government and the resignation of Egyptian President Mubarak, then unrest in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and beyond. The United States has rightly championed the freedom of expression in affected nations and denounced the violent and oppressive reactions of regimes like that of Qaddafi in Libya.

Despite our distance, we can clearly feel the vibrations from uprisings on the other side of the world. They have once again exposed our country's Achilles heel -- an addiction to foreign oil.

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Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 08:01 AM PST

The Will to Fix Senate Rules

by SenatorTomUdall

Cross-posted at

In January, I wrote a diary here about the obstruction and inefficiency that the nation has witnessed in the U.S. Senate throughout my first year in the "world’s greatest deliberative body."

Since then things haven’t improved. In many ways, they’ve actually gotten worse. Over the past two months, we’ve seen the list of bills passed by the House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate, climb to 290; we’ve seen a single senator hold up key legislation, causing the Highway Trust Fund and critical Unemployment Insurance to lapse; we've seen a single senator grind business to a halt to consider a project in his state; and we’ve seen routine nominations blocked by filibusters, or left to languish by the mere threat of filibuster, despite majority support of many.

The continued abuse of Senate rules is the kind of business-as-usual Washington politics that so frustrates the American people.

Our rules are broken and we need to fix them, and I have offered a simple proposal — the Constitutional Option.

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A year ago, I took my seat in "the world's greatest deliberative body" as the 17th U.S. senator for New Mexico. The respect that I hold for the institution of the U.S. Senate is immeasurable, as is the pride with which I serve.

But in the past year I have witnessed an assembly that seems more dysfunctional than deliberative -- where partisan rancor and the Senate's own incapacitating rules often prevent us from conducting our business. Many of my colleagues and I were elected to the sound of a call for change. The American people sent us to Washington to put partisanship aside and take the country in a new direction. Unfortunately, the self-imposed rules that govern the Senate have stood in the way.

Inspiration for the Constitutional Option

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