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I think a great 2014 slogan for Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) should be "Merkley: Making The Senate Work":

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At the start of this fading congressional session, back in January 2011, Merkley and (Tom) Udall (D. NM) tried to change the Senate rules to make it harder to maintain filibusters, refusals to end debate to allow the Senate to vote on issues. Reid expressed interest but pulled the plug, insisting that an agreement he'd reached with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would ease the problem. Scores of filibusters and a mounting pile of judicial vacancies later, it's clear it didn't.

Now Merkley is back, with a couple more Democrats in the Senate and a gang of new members who don't think they were elected to watch nothing happen. Lately, nothing happening has been the Senate's specialty, with 60 votes (the number needed to end a filibuster) required to do anything. - The Oregonian, 11/24/12

Merkley was on Hardball a few days ago and he does an excellent job explaining why we need filibuster reform and explains his plan to reform filibuster rules:

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Merkley also released a statement in yesterday's edition of U.S. News.  First he discusses the problem with the "silent filibuster":

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Currently, a single senator can block a simple up-or-down vote on any amendment, bill, or nomination, without any effort at all. A senator can simply call in an objection and go off to dinner or even fly off to vacation. Each of these "silent filibusters" means a supermajority of 60 votes is needed for the Senate to take action, and requires days or weeks to overcome even when those 60 votes can be found. - U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR), U.S. News, 11/28/12

What Merkley calls for is replacing the "silent filibuster" with the "talking filibuster":

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Senators voting for more debate would actually have to debate. This requirement would force filibustering senators to make their case before their colleagues and before the public.

This talking filibuster would, by requiring senators to invest time and energy, strip away a large number of the frivolous filibusters. Moreover, it would allow the public to decide whether the filibusterers are heroes or bums and to encourage their home state senators to vote accordingly on the next opportunity to end debate. - U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR), U.S. News, 11/28/12

Bringing transparency to the filibuster process is an excellent way to do away with obstruction.  It gives the American people a chance to get engaged in the debate and see where their elected leaders stand on the issues.  Hence why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY) and his fellow Republicans hate it:

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"Let's be clear: The rules change that's being proposed is not an affront to me or to the Republican Party. It's an affront to the American people," McConnell said. "It's an affront to the people who sent me and the other 46 Republicans here to represent them in the Senate, but whose voices would be shut out if the majority leader and this cohort of short-sighted Senate sophomores have their way and permanently change this body." - Huffington Post, 11/26/12

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“I think the backlash will be severe,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the conservative firebrand, said sternly. “If you take away minority rights, which is what you’re doing because you’re an ineffective leader, you’ll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we’ll do what we have to do to fight back.”

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“It will shut down the Senate,” the incoming Senate GOP whip, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, told POLITICO. “It’s such an abuse of power.”

So his fellow Republican colleagues can finally come out of the shadows and show Americans their true obstructionist colors.  The Senate GOP has been on a real filibuster high since Obama took office:

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The abuse of the filibuster has become rampant over the last few years. When Lyndon Johnson was majority leader, he only had to deal with one filibuster. But in the last six years, Harry Reid has faced 386 filibusters as majority leader. Frankly, it's amazing that any legislation actually passes the Senate. - Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR), 11/28/12

Here's a few more great details about Merkley's filibuster reform amendment that you will like:

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There are serious filibuster reform proposals on the table, including proposals built around requiring filibustering senators to defend their filibuster on the Senate floor. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), for example, proposed requiring up to 20 senators to remain on the Senate floor at all times in order to maintain a filibuster, thus imposing a meaningful physical cost on senators who would prefer to spend that time sleeping, meeting with lobbyists or raising money. - Think Progress, 11/27/12

Merkley's bill makes obstructionists put up or shut up.  That's what I like about it.  It will also open the floor for clowns like Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz to rant and rave all day so we'll be getting some fresh new laughs and "he didn't just say that" moments:
To be fair, neither Coburn nor Cornyn outline specifically how they would react to filibuster reform, and Lee is an increasingly marginal figure even within his own caucus. But their comments highlight why it is dangerous for Senate Democrats to push weaksauce filibuster reform — such as merely eliminating one of two opportunities to filibuster a bill or requiring “talking” filibusters where just one senator can keep a filibuster alive by defending it on the Senate floor — as opposed to serious rules changes that will make filibustering difficult and painful. Nothing in the career of Mike Lee, or, for that matter, Jim DeMint (R-SC) or Rand Paul (R-KY) or Ted Cruz (R-TX), suggests that these men will not eagerly spend as long as it takes giving serial speeches on the Senate floor if doing so will frustrate one of President Obama’s goals. - Think Progress, 11/27/12
Strong reform to the filibuster was a big issue that helped a lot of our newly elected Senate  Democrats win this year:

All seven Democratic senators-elect — Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) — have pledged to support filibuster reform. Sen.-elect Angus King (I-Maine) made filibuster reform a central plank of his campaign. - The Hill, 11/13/12
Merkley has been working closely with Senators Tom Udall (D. NM) and Tom Harkin (D. IA) on drafting filibuster reform and it has been gaining support in the Senate:

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Udall, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) proposed a package of reforms for the 112th Congress that would have eliminated filibusters on motions to proceed to new business. Their package also would have required senators wanting to hold up legislation or nominees to actually hold the floor and debate, and shortened to two hours the time that must elapse after a filibuster on a nominee has been cut off.

The package failed in a 44-51 vote, with Democratic Sens. Jim Webb (Va.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Reid voting no. Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) did not vote. - The Hill, 11/13/12

Support for filibuster reform is growing in the Senate.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV), Senator Dick Durbin (D. IL) and President Obama have both come out in support for filibuster reform:

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"These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn't," Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor in May, referring to Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who happened to be presiding over the Senate at the time.

"They were right. The rest of us were wrong, or most of us, anyway. What a shame." - The Oregonian, 11/24/12

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Senator Durbin says, "If you think your objection is sufficiently serious to stop the business of the senate, park your fanny on the floor of the senate and object! And don't get up and go out to dinner! And don't get up and go to a basketball game! And don't go home for a wedding! Stick around and show us how serious you are about this. And if it isn't worth your time, then it isn't worth it to the senate to stop its action and its business." - 89 WLS, 11/28/12

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“The President has said many times that the American people are demanding action. They want to see progress, not partisan delay games,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement, first obtained by the Huffington Post. “That hasn’t changed, and the President supports Majority Leader Reid’s efforts to reform the filibuster process.” - Washington Post, 11/28/12

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D. MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D. NH), Mark Udall (D. CO), Michael Bennet (D. CO) and Kristen Gillibrand (D. NY)  have also been helping Merkley gain public support for filibuster reform.  Slate Magazine also gives us four reasons to be optimistic that filibuster reform can pass:

1. These aren’t particularly new or scary ideas. Americans, raised on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, would hardly be horrified by a filibuster that actually forced a senator to speak. (Two years ago, after their party had lost the House and six Senate seats, New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, both Democrats, called for a “real filibuster” that would make senators show up and talk.) Nor does it seem ridiculous to ban filibusters on procedural votes.

2. Majority Leader Harry Reid wants reform. He didn’t always. In 2005, as Republicans constantly (and fairly!) remind him, Reid opposed a potential Republican-backed rule change that would have ended the filibuster for judicial nominations. The filibuster, he said, was “a tool that serves the long-term interest of the Senate and the American people and our country.” Cameras were recording that. He helped sandbag Udall and Merkley’s 2010-11 reform campaign. Only in May 2012 did he apologize, saying that “these two young, fine senators said it was time we changed the rules in the Senate, and we didn’t. They were right. The rest of us were wrong.” Reid makes reform possible, and keeps the reformers from getting too aggressive.

3. Everybody’s a hypocrite. McConnell likes to quote Reid’s 2005 filibuster epistles. Democrats like to quote McConnell’s. The Republican leader casts everything he can as an appeal to Constitution and tradition, and in 2005 he pointed out that a change to nomination standard would “not be the first time a minority of senators has upset a Senate tradition or practice.” Democrats hyperventilated then, and Republicans hyperventilate now. They even use the same language. The “nuclear option” is a term that makes a 51-vote rule change sound terrifying. Trent Lott coined the term, Democrats picked it up, and Republicans have resurrected it.

Only 45 members of the new Senate were around in 2005. The grand Democratic defenders of the filibuster tradition, like Robert Byrd, are gone. (McConnell’s Tuesday speech praising the Byrd legacy got little attention.) The new members are not so bound to rules invented by previous Senates. “I don’t see the current rules as … the inevitable product of constitutional command,” said Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican who clerked for Sam Alito before getting to the Senate in 2011. “Nor do I see as incompatible with constitutional demand the rule to govern how debate is brought to a close There is nothing more directly placed at the discretion of the Senate.” (Though Lee opposes a rule change.)

4. Republicans haven’t figured out a good defense. McConnell’s daily speeches have shared a repeatable, bite-sized theme: Democrats want to “break the rules to change the rules.” In their own speeches and comments to reporters, Republicans such as South Dakota’s John Thune, Wyoming’s John Barrasso, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions are using the same phrase. Like McConnell, they sometimes warn that a post-reform Senate would become ungovernable.

“You know, so much of what we do is courteous around here,” Sessions told me between votes. “So much of what’s done is done by unanimous consent. You don’t have to give consent. If you feel like you’ve been run over, that the Senate is being endangered, a good senator has every right, or duty, even, to use what tools they may have to stop and even reverse that decision.”

Democrats can barely stop themselves laughing at this. How could the Senate possibly work more slowly than it works now? Why would people blame them for more logjams when they’ve effectively cast Republicans as the hell-no party? - Slate, 11/28/12

I sure hope Slate is right.

Senator Merkley is a true progressive hero who actually cares about governing and helping pass legislation to get our country and our economy moving forward.  He's a strong supporter of holding Wall Street accountable and has been working closely with Tom Udall, Al Fraken (D. MN), Sherrod Brown (D. OH) and Bernie Sanders (I. VT) overturn Citizens United.  In fact, just for fun, here's Merkley grilling JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon at a Senate hearing:

Merkley understand better than anyone how badly GOP obstruction and their abuse of the filibuster is hurting this country and has stepped up to the plate to serve not only his constituents in Oregon but for the entire nation:

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Our Founding Fathers knew that blocking the will of the majority was a drastic step, and deliberately limited it to a handful of very special cases, like overriding a presidential veto and ratifying a treaty. They would be horrified at what the Senate has become. - U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR), U.S. News, 11/28/12

Well said, Senator.  Well said.  If you haven't had a chance yet to sign Merkley's petition for filibuster reform, feel free to do so:

I have a good feeling Senator Merkley will be re-elected in 2014 but Karl Rove, Wall Street and right-wing Super PACs and outside money would love to get rid of him.  He stands up for progressive values and for middle and working class Americans.  We need brave men like Merkley to stay in the Senate so show him some love and help give him the resources he needs for 2014:

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Senator Merkley has offered amendment No. 3096 to the defense authorization bill on the Senate floor to urge an accelerated withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.  This could be voted on in two days so call your Senator and urge them to get behind it:

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Comment Preferences

  •  We should be at 48 'Yes' and 47 'No' votes (4+ / 0-)
    The package failed in a 44-51 vote, with Democratic Sens. Jim Webb (Va.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Reid voting no. Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) did not vote. - The Hill, 11/13/12
    The 44 'Yes' votes from last time,
    (+2) Webb and Kohl have been replaced by supporters,
    (+2) Brown and Lugar have been replaced by supporters.
    The Maine and Nebraska seats are a trade-off.

    That means Dems need 3 more votes out of the remaining 7 Democrats: Baucus, Feinstein, Inouye, Kerry, Pryor, Reed, and Reid.

    Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

    by bear83 on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:11:04 AM PST

    •  It is shameful that Feinstein does not support (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      filibuster reform.  Supporting the Iraq war (while personally benefiting from it) is one thing -- most Democrats did.  But now she's standing in opposition to the great majority of Democrats.

      Ditto Kerry.

    •  Kerry & Inouye should be yes votes ... (1+ / 0-)
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      I believe Reid only voted NO for parliamentary reasons.

      Feinstein is fairly conservative and I don't see her voting YES. Even though her constituents are probably overwhelmingly in favor. But she has always done her own thing.

      I'm not familiar with Reed... Anyone have a feel for which way he would vote?

      A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

      by falconer520 on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:59:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope this changes the reporting on the Senate (4+ / 0-)
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    codairem, blueoasis, Aquarius40, llywrch

    Far too often I hear that some bill failed to pass, then they move on to the next story. The truth is that the bill did get a majority -- it passed, but it was filibustered. So if the Senators need to stand up and talk, maybe we'll finally start hearing about the obstruction!

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. -- Molly Ivins

    by theKgirls on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:11:27 AM PST

  •  Merkley will be re-elected.Not so sure about Wyden (0+ / 0-)

    I like most of what Merkley has supported and pushed for. Whats not to like. It is scary to reform filibusters when one thinks about terms when Dems are out of power. But voters should get a Senate that works and if they vote for the opposition they get what they voted for. If they are too lazy to do any real research then they rely on shallow campaign imaging that relies on surveys to tell them how to frame themselves to get power to screw over the people who fell for thier lines...

    The good thing that has happened for Dems is that many who simply get an overall impression of what parties (not the candidates) are FOR and then stick to them unless really woke up by some triggering event. In a way that is what PBO has done. He has redefined the Dems for another generation. Stripped away the lies about 'Tax and Spend' and 'Weak on Defense' Democrats. Meanwhile the Republicans (regressives) have painted themselves as the party of the rich and anti-anyone who is not white male as well as Democracy hating. And the idjits are doubling down. Image building is important.

    I hope they can get reform this time and I will accept that if Regressives get power they will get passed a lot of crap to benefit the rich and corporations. Geesh didn't we already suffer thru the freaking years of Bush ... we survived and we will clean up the mess of those years.

    Fear is the Mind Killer...

    by boophus on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:29:18 AM PST

    •  I think Merkley will get elected too but he is on (0+ / 0-)

      Karl Rove and the GOP's target list for sure.  They're just hoping they land an ideal candidate which I don't think they will.

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