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View Diary: Outside pressure for real filibuster reform building (68 comments)

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  •  I wrote to Chuck Schumer (11+ / 0-)

    and made 4 points about what needed to be in any decent reform bill:
    1) talking filibuster mandate;
    2) making motions to consider and other housekeeping motions non-debateable;
    3) Ending the practice of holds, both on legislation and nominations;
    4) eliminating wait time following cloture on nominations.

    What I got back was this canned garbage:

    Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the reform of filibuster rules in the Senate.  I share your concern regarding the abuse of the filibuster to derail legislative progress.
         The use of the filibuster has increased to unprecedented levels over the past several decades.  In the first half of the 20th century filibusters were overridden on average ten times per decade. This number almost tripled during the civil rights era of the 1960’s with 28 overrides, and it increased dramatically in the last two decades — 358 filibusters were overridden in the 1990’s and 435 between 2001 and 2009.  The filibuster has clearly gone from being the exception to the norm used to stifle progress and derail the business of the Senate.
         In 2010, as Chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, I held a series of six hearings with 23 expert witnesses to examine the history and use and abuse of the filibuster.  As I explained during the first hearing, the filibuster has been used responsibly by both parties while in the minority. However, I often see the filibuster being used merely to delay or obstruct Senate action. Some delays are not even intended to block the underlying bill, but to delay consideration of other legislation. This overuse of the filibuster is simply not healthy for the Senate as an institution and the country as a whole.
         As part of my efforts to avoid unnecessary delay, I sponsored S. 679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 which passed the Senate in June. The bill would eliminate the need for the Senate to vote on roughly 170 executive nominations and 3,000 noncontroversial Officer Corps positions. This reform will help to break the gridlock that has dominated the Senate, allowing both parties to focus on driving an agenda designed to create jobs and reduce the deficit. This bipartisan act recognizes that debate often gets bogged down with unnecessary bickering and impedes the efficient operation of government.
         Thank you for contacting me about this important issue.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can ever be of assistance to you on this, or any other matter.
    As you can see, they really addressed each and every one of my points.  I am calling the office today and complainng that their "answer" a) did not reply to my message; and b) is just the sort of mush that will do the Senate no good in the coming two years.
    •  Good for you, calling them back. (5+ / 0-)

       As far as Senators go, snail mail is a lot better than e-mail.
         Don't ask me why, but they just somehow look at mail via the USPS as "real" correspondences from the People.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:17:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And Schumer really is a key guy in this because (4+ / 0-)

      of his leadership role.
         New Yorkers ought to put all kinds of pressure on him. And because he's in leadership, he's fair game for the rest of us too.

         Which reminds me how important it is to keep calling and writing Harry Reid, who as Majority Leader is the key Semator on the issue. Not only do the the votes need to be there, but Harry needs to sign off on this being a majority vote.
         Just to give some historical context, Robert Byrd did this on numerous occasions as majority leader in the late '70's and in the late '80's.  

      Byrd was a legendary parliamentarian, and he used a majority vote to change Senate rules five times in his total six-year tenure as Majority Leader!

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:29:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  history of rule changes (0+ / 0-)

        Interesting point. I haven't read the details, but you may have seen Carl Levin say that they have NEVER changed the Senate rules by mere majority vote.

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