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A screen capture of Jimmy Stewart's character holding a filibuster in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
The gang's all here trying to keep the Senate from functioning again. That means everybody in the Senate is saying vague stuff about where they might be in an agreement to keep the Senate completely dysfunctional.
“We’ve had some very productive conversations,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the No. 2 Republican, who is retiring.

“We need to avoid breaking the rules to change the rules — that’s a pretty universal position among both Democrats and Republicans,” Kyl told TPM. “There are some ways that the body needs to change its way of doing business in order to be more productive. There are conversations going on about all of that. And I think they have the potential to provide some bipartisan solutions.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) also sounded hopeful — but had no details.

“We’re still talking about it. We don’t have an agreement yet,” Durbin told TPM. “There are some ideas out there and they’re held pretty strongly but no final package. We’d love to have an agreement with the Republicans to make this a more efficient and fair institution.”

On the other hand, support for a real, actual talking filibuster seems pretty high. At least among Democrats. Jon Tester is for it. Barbara Boxer took to the floor to defend the idea, and got Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, and even Ben Nelson with her. Here's what he said:
“Yeah, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, that’s all we have to do,” he said. “If somebody thinks it’s important enough to delay the work of the Senate, then they ought to think it’s important enough for them to be on the floor of the Senate to explain why.”
Not that Ben Nelson has much to do with it, since he's retiring and the changes won't happen until next year. Of course, neither does Jon Kyl, who is sticking his nose into it. But if Ben Nelson is agreeing with the majority of Democrats, then how radical can this idea be?

Help make the filibuster a real, talking filibuster. Sign our petition.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 02:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Those who want reform are putting out (5+ / 0-)

    petitions to rally the troops. I've signed all presented. I thought Durbin, or somebody, said they have the votes. Also, and this is important, John Kyl should finally STFU.

  •  Yawn. I don't see how "talking the filbuster" will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    get judicial appointments or much legislation passed. Seems much ado about very little.

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

    by TofG on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:00:21 PM PST

    •  It puts the burden of sustaining the filibuster (26+ / 0-)

      on the minority party.

      If they blink, ever, the vote happens.

      Also the other reforms eliminate a bunch of circumstances where even if you CAN defeat cloture, you have to do it twice and each time wastes 3 days of time.

      Right now the burden of defeating the filibuster is entirely on the majority party.   The minority can all be off drinking margaritas in Tahiti and the majority still can't vote unless they have 60 votes AND wait several days.

      It should pretty much kill off all the filibusters that eventually pass with 87 votes but waste a week of time (this how most of the appointment blocking went, and is a lot of why the Senate is so far behind the curve there...not enough votes to block the appointment, but cloture slowed things down a lot)

      It'll also make the filibuster a newsworthy event instead of a silent event.  If they try to filibuster everything the way they're doing now, it'll be easier to communicate to the public who is at fault for gridlock.

      •  Excellent bit of 'splaining you've done thnx n.t. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "Are you bluish? You don't look bluish," attributed to poet Roger Joseph McGough, for the Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968).

        by BlueStateRedhead on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:53:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  All of the above (5+ / 0-)

        The publicity part of it might be the most powerful of all - remember, they would be required to TALK.

        We all know what happens when teabeggers TALK.

        The soundbites...I can hear them now...

      •  Exactly! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        newpioneer, ljb

        If it's a news event, then they will pay a price in public opinion when they filibuster popular legislation.  

        It's the only reform needed, IMO.  A talking filibuster ensures that there will be public support for blocking unpopular legislation as well, for instance privatizing SS.

        "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

        by Subterranean on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:16:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is the big deal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Filibusters are in the congressional record, but when VIDEO clips of stupid filibusters go viral, we might start to see some accountability at election time.

        It'll also make the filibuster a newsworthy event instead of a silent event.
        How will any voter want to be the one supporting a candidate that spent x total hours speaking on the floor...  simply to delay an up or down vote.

        Cspan is there, every single voter will be able to see what their "public employee" is doing, instead of doing the job they were hired to do.

        •  we'll see (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, Bailey2001

          Remember Newt's first big media play:  Have proto-teabagger Republicans give firey speeches to an empty House chamber because the CSpan cameras were on.

          Republicans won't read the phone book.  This will be orchestrated.  They'll have speechwriters and Luntz types on call.  They'll yammer about "personal responsibility" and "family values" and give every Reagan speech ever spoken, they'll read bible verses and pray.  They'll have a grand old time hamming it up.

          No, this could backfire badly.  

  •  I say; Just do it! forget the GOP---they will (6+ / 0-)

    gum up a better Dem solution.  

    Let Reid do his thing, and screw the Republicans.  

    Think they care?   No.  GOP would put the screws on Dems, given the chance.

    •  Lets get a few republicans to vote for it (0+ / 0-)

      And then loudly proclaim how it was a bipartisan effort. The public wants to see elected officials working together. I'd prefer they see that it can happen when led by democrats, as compared to the republican led clusterfuck in the House. I also suspect it could hurt a few republicans that cross ranks to vote for it. That doesn't break my heart.

      A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by notrouble on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:30:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Continues mulling....." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That doesn't sound very promising.

    What a bunch of do-nothing losers.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 05:55:49 PM PST

  •  What the F is wrong with Harry Reid? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Normal people want all the power they can get!

    Harry Reid could force majority rule in the Senate and is afraid to even ask for a little step toward progress.

    The Democrats are a joke if they don't take majority control of the Senate!

    •  He probably can't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He's leader at the behest of his caucus.  Eliminating the filibuster will reduce the power of every senator who isn't a committee chair or in the leadership.  If they're not on board, an attempt by him to force it could result in being turfed as majority leader.

      I have no idea whether he really wants to, but it is important to realize he's not a dictator over them.  

  •  What rights does Nancy Pelosi have? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newpioneer, shoeless

    Why should the Democrats in the Senate give the minority any more rights than the minority leader Nancy Pelosi gets in the House of Representatives?

  •  Jon Kyl's office released a statement saying that (9+ / 0-)

    When he said

    We need to avoid breaking the rules to change the rules — that’s a pretty universal position among both Democrats and Republicans
    “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement”
  •  Has anyone gotten a response from Feinstein lately (0+ / 0-)

    I've written her several times but have not had a reply. She's a terrible Senator for CA but she's getting pretty old so this will be her last term I guess.

    Warren is neither a Clintonesque triangulator nor an Obamaesque conciliator. She is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition, and her candidacy is a test of whether that approach can still appeal to voters.-J. Toobin "New Yorker"

    by chuck utzman on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 10:35:17 PM PST

    •  Feinstein always replys (0+ / 0-)

      Senator Feinstein is certainly a centrist but she listens to her constituents and always responds.  I'm hoping she's reconsidering her position.

      "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends" -Martin Luther King Jr

      by blue denim on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 12:10:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh golly, I wonder how the Senate GOP would (5+ / 0-)

    handle this situation if the shoe was on the other foot?  They'd take about 6 seconds to decide to take the "nuclear" option and would then tell all the Dems to go fuck themselves.  Why is it the Dems always allow their supposed "moral high ground" to get in the way of actual leadership in doing what they know is right and is good for the country?

    •  I agree… (0+ / 0-)

      been saying this the entire time. If the shoe were on the other foot, the republicons would END the filibuster. Not limit it, end it! I am totally behind Senator Reid's attempt to make the Senate work again.

  •  Some Hope (0+ / 0-)

    At least we are talking about real rule changes now, instead of about some crappy Republican "Gentleman's Agreement" that will last about 2 weeks, if that long.

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:09:21 AM PST

  •  What is there to mull? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, ljb

    Action needs to be taken and the talking filibuster rule needs to be restored.  If someone wants to stop a bill, then let them convince the others through real communication and not by sticking their heads back into their shells (Mr. Turtle McConnell).

    being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:14:12 AM PST

  •  I'm confused (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    delphine, dclawyer06

    Why are republicans involved in the discussions?  I thought these rule changes could be made with a majority vote?  

    It makes no sense to include republican opinions in any deliberations on the filibuster.  This is just another case of dems negotiating away responsibility for their actions, as I see it.  More bullshit.  Whatever reform we get will be worthless.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:14:59 AM PST

    •  They can (0+ / 0-)

      But Senators want to pretend otherwise.

      It really is that delusional.  As long as they pretend they need 67 to change the rules, they can tell us "sorry, can't do anything" when good stuff is stopped by the filibuster.

      They can end it any fucking time.  It's infuriating that we let them get away with this collossal game of kabuki.

  •  Be vewy, vewy careful on an, "agreement," Dems. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newpioneer, dclawyer06

    And remember the old adage: Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.

    Fuck Big Brother...from now on, WE'RE watching.

    by franklyn on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:23:02 AM PST

  •  Any deal will suck (0+ / 0-)

    Two things:

    1) Any deal the Republicans will agree to will still leave them with the ability to stymie senate business in some way shape or form.  That's non-negotiable for them.  Any concessions they give will be matched with other changes which bolster blocking power.

    2) The mere fact of making a "deal" means once again the rules will have been changed by 67+ Senators and everyone in the Senate can keep pretending that this is what is legally needed to change the rules.  This is their tinkerbell that they desperately want to keep clapping for.  A Senate that admits this is fiction and 51 can change the damn rules is not what they want.

    It should be what liberals want. I'm not impressed with the "talking filibuster" - I really doubt it will substantially improve the situation but at least it would have met #2 and would mean future rule changes would be much easier to do.  If I was wrong, great, it would work, but if I'm right then the Senate can fix it once it's evident that it isn't working.

    The 1975 reforms failed for precisely these reasons.  Yes the threshold for cloture was lowered from 2/3 to 3/5, but in exchange it was 2/3 "of those voting" to 3/5 "of those duly sworn" - the trade was to make it easier to defeat rogue annoying Senate factions, but also easier for the minority party to do what they now do - block everything.

  •  It's tempting to suggest (0+ / 0-)

    that if Ben Nelson likes this idea, then it must not be radical enough.  :)  But I have signed on to the petition drives, for all the good it will do, since I don't expect my senators McCain and Kyl (or his successor, Flake) to be of any use.

    There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

    by tytalus on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:28:23 AM PST

    •  McCain, Kyle and Flake? (0+ / 0-)

      "Bless your heart".

      "I'm totally pro-choice in the matter of abortion. But of course I'm also so radically pro-life that I think every person from birth onward must have full and affordable access to healthcare." - Gail Collins

      by gritsngumbo on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:52:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does anyone have a list of wavering Dems? (0+ / 0-)

    I assume DiFi is one of them but who are the others?

    •   (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      According to the Washington Post's Plum Line on Nov. 30 2012, Carl Levin, Diane Feinstein and Mark Pryor are opposed to filibuster reform by majority vote.  Max Baucus and Jack Reed have yet to be persuaded.  John Kerry and Jay Rockefeller are undecided by leaning in favor or reform.  And Sen. elect Joe Donnelly is undecided.  I don't know the current status on these people.

  •  Make 'em stand there!!! Make 'em EARN it! (0+ / 0-)

    Republicans should understand this.  They are champions in believing that unless someone pays for something they will not appericiate it and abuse it . . . and they've proven it.

    Make them stand there and EARN their Filibuster.

    Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

    by Clytemnestra on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:34:07 AM PST

  •  You can't switch horses in the middle of the race. (0+ / 0-)

    But you don't have to bring the 1950 horse to the starting gate in 2013.

    Hey, GOP - Get In, Sit Down, Shut up, & Hang On!

    by 88kathy on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:34:46 AM PST

  •  utopians (0+ / 0-)

    Most liberals want to be utopians--think that people will work hard to be fair--well, the Rs are not ever going to play fair--be sorry what you wish for--if/when they gain a majority, cloture reform is not gonna play out too well.  Think about what just happened in Michigan--that will happen on a larger scale.
    Some here will respond that if we don't do this now, Rs will do it when they get in power--probably not.  There are still some RINOs out there who toe the line but regret doing so.  They don't want to succeed and lose that majority by bat shit crazy laws.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:37:16 AM PST

  •  ? Why are we trying (0+ / 0-)

    to reach an agreement with the Republicans again?

    Let me get this straight:

    "You stymie us by stopping anything remotely effective.  So let's sit down and try to find an effective solution to the fact that you stymie us by stopping anything remotely effective."


    Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

    by delphine on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:38:13 AM PST

  •  Any deal will allow more amendments from minority (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    which means GOP and corporatist Dems will bend over backwards to ruin any legislation that isn't a handout to corporations or the rich.  Ie that $250K threshold for the Bush extra tax cuts would easily be raised to $500K or even $1M if McConnell could offer an amendment on the legislation and only need 51 votes.  

    Other than on Presidential appointments, any reform will not matter given we have a split congress now.  

    They have the billionaires, We have the Big Dog!

    by Jacoby Jonze on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 09:38:40 AM PST

  •  "Break the rules to change the rules" is a lie! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Progressives really need to start pushing back on this "break the rules" talking point. It is a complete lie. A past Congress cannot bind a future Congress to anything. The rules of the Senate are not laws, they are mearly rules. The Constitution states that the Senate can make it's own rules. However, it is very clear that those rules are not binding from one Senate to another. Why? Because one of the first acts of either house of Congress is to adopt their rules. This is by majority vote only - anything else would be unconsititutional. It is only a tradition of the Senate to accepte the rules that were in force from the previous Senate. Any rules change can be made by a majority vote until and unless that majority votes to accepte the rules of the previous Senate which binds them not to make any rule changes except by a 2/3 majority.

    •  ding ding ding (0+ / 0-)

      "A past Congress cannot bind a future Congress to anything."


    •  It is actually not clear at all (0+ / 0-)

      that the rules are not binding from one Senate to another. At least not clear from the online version of the rules, where it states that there is a method by which the rules can be changed, but that method is not shown. So we don't know how easy/difficult it is to change the rules.

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:11:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Parliamentary Procedure 101 (0+ / 0-)

        Any legislative body must adopt their rules. After a new election there is a new body that must adopt rules. Unless the rules of the Senate have been added to the Constitution then the rules of prior Senates are not binding on new Senates unless the new Senate chooses to make it so. Not to mention the legal principal of the rule against perpetuities. It's not exactly applicable but there is a very strong prohibition in the law baring the dead from attempting to contractually bind the living.

  •  If they could filibuster a tweet on twitter (0+ / 0-)

    they would. I agree that the standing filibuster is the only way to do this. Go back to the way it was. The public will know who's doing what and the senator will have to answer to their consistutents if need be. Enough of this secret backroom crap.

  •  Mr. Smith is a pretty weak symbol (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I hate to be a curmudgeon, but I really wish we had a more compelling example of the talking filibuster than this.  Remember: in the film, Smith's filibuster fails on nearly every level -- he can't convince his colleagues, and he can't reach his constituents, who believe the lies being told about him by the machine.  Ultimately, he wins out only because he makes one man feel guilty.  For a film that has come to represent a populist everyman ideal, it ends on a cynically authoritarian, even fascist note.


    I happily support filibuster reform, though!


  •  I know how to make it a more efficient (0+ / 0-)

    and fair institution. Tell the Republicans to go to hell.

    When someone tells you they are lying, you should believe them.

    by shoeless on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 10:32:04 AM PST

  •  1975 is the Year the Current Filibuster (0+ / 0-)

    rules were changed to the procedure we now recognize as Dysfunctional to the Nth....Ironically it was also the same year ALEC was formed..
    What we the people want is for the Filibuster to be restored to it's origins.
    The way it works now, we are all denied the opportunity to hear what the issue really is, why they support/oppose any issue by providing us the facts, their reasoning and conclusions.  We deserve that information in order to be informed as we engage with our Congress!
    The way it is now, we don't even know Who has completely shut the system down, let alone Why.

    •  hmm (0+ / 0-)

      "What we the people want is for the Filibuster to be restored to it's origins."

      Its origins are that it didn't exist.  The first senate had a "previous question" rule which allowed the majority to move to a vote.

      The filibuster was created by accident when that rule was left out of a new set of rules passed in a subsequent congress.

      •  Depends on who "we" is, I guess. ;) n/t (0+ / 0-)

        "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

        by bryduck on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:12:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  accident? (0+ / 0-)

        I though VP Aaron Burr suggested it be left out because it had never been used (there were only 26 Senators who all knew each other, and not that much business to do) and he couldn't see why it might be needed. Either way, then is not now.

  •  Urgent Filibuster Reform (0+ / 0-)

    Senator Merkley is appealing for pressure on Senators. You've all signed the petitions, but your personal contact cannot hurt, too, so please take 5 minutes right now to tell your Senators you want filibuster reform, especially Feinstein, Kerry, Levin, Pryor, Baucus, Reed, Rockefeller, Inouye, Senators-elect Donnelly and King. (or don't we allow links here?)
    Google their names or follow the prompts from link to contact form. Write your own or use my message: Please support Senator Tom Udall in his effort to make the 113th Senate accountable for all its rules via a vote on opening day, January 3, 2013. The Constitution authorizes you to make your own rules, and does not bind you to rules made by a previous Senate. 
    Please prepare to debate proposed rules, including Senator Harken’s thoughtful reforms regarding filibuster, and then adopt by a simple majority Senate rules which allow the majority to act, while protecting the minority’s desire to be heard. 
    Since you have the responsibility to make your rules, we will not accept your future plea that a minority has blocked legislation using rules you had the responsibility to draft. Nor will we accept your complaints that key executive positions are unfilled or judicial appointments are blocked by rules on which you failed to vote.

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