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Sen. Jeff Merkley is back at work, agitating to fix the Senate. Merkley is one of a handful of senators who led the charge for real filibuster reform in this session of the Senate, only to see their efforts fizzle out as the Senate adopted a weak agreement that Republicans have already flouted. It's that reaction from Republicans that's got Merkley reignited.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is teaming up with the liberal advocacy group Democracy For America to build public awareness of filibuster abuse and court supporters for reform.
“It’s now clear the experiment has failed. The Senate remains broken,” Merkley wrote to supporters. “Senate Republicans continue to force delays—even on bills with overwhelming public support, and even on nominees widely considered well-qualified.” [...]
Merkley insists he’d be just as strong a supporter of his plan if he were in the minority, arguing that the point of the filibuster is to debate, not to obstruct in the dark.
“The Senate is badly broken, and it’s not going to get better by wishful thinking or handshake deals,” he wrote in his email to supporters. “We can change this — but only if the American people insist on a Senate that works.”
Merkley's plan wouldn't abolish the filibuster, it would make the opposition have to actually work to achieve it by forcing obstructing senators to talk, to stand up on the floor of the Senate and publicly declare and explain their opposition to a bill or nomination. That's the plan he wants to see enacted, and he “has continued the conversation over rules with his colleagues," his spokesman Jamal Raad told TPM.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made lots of noise about bringing filibuster reform back with the so-called nuclear option, a simple majority vote during the session in which that majority changes the rules. Merkley is continuing to talk to his Democratic colleagues, but he's also reaching out to the public to try to get their support, and to get a citizens' lobby working on the project. You can help.