I've wanted to feature Senator Jeff Merkley's Keynote Speech at Netroots Nation 2013 in a diary ever since I heard it in San Jose last month. With things coming to a head in in the coming week in the Senate over Republican abuse of the Filibuster, now seems like the appropriate time to revisit Merkley's eloquent words about the Senate itself.
...we need to fix the Broken Senate.
We the people are not being heard when forty one Senators block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from ending predatory practices and standing up for middle class families.
We the people are not being heard when forty one Senators wage a war on Organized Labor and say we'd rather shut down the National Labor Relations Board than let it do its job.
We the people are not being heard when forty one Senators seek to pack the courts by blocking President Obama's highly qualified nominees.
This has to end!
The Founders never envisioned a co-equal branch of government, the congress would use the Advice and Consent Clause to damage and undermine the other two co-equal branches.
Make no mistake there has been a coordinated Republican effort to delay and block such nominations as part of a larger effort to weaken the President and cripple the Progressive agenda.
So here the thing. If we can't get timely up and down votes on these nominees in July, it is time to take control of our own destiny and change the Senate rules.
Now I recognize that some folks are nervous about changing the filibuster on nominations. They want to preserve the 60 vote threshold so that someday when we're in the minority we can use it to block bad nominations.
Let me ask you this. Does anyone here tonight really think that a Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will hesitate for one second to change the Senate rules so a President Perry or a President Palin can stack the courts with conservatives? If you do then think again."
The segment on the Filibuster starts at 14:35 in.
What did Mitch McConnell have to say about the Filibuster back in 2005?
Mitch McConnell Then
“The majority in the Senate is prepared to restore the Senate’s traditions and precedence to ensure that regardless of party, any president’s judicial nominees, after full and fair debate, receive a simple up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. It’s time to move away from … advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, May 19, 2005
“This is not the first time a minority of senators has upset a Senate tradition or practice, and the current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done–use its constitutional authority under article I, section 5, to reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote. Despite the incredulous protestations of our Democratic colleagues, the Senate has repeatedly adjusted its rules as circumstances dictate.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, May 23, 2005
“The time has come to change the rules. I want to change them in an orderly fashion. I want a time agreement. But, barring that, if I have to be forced into a corner to try for majority vote I will do it because I am going to do my duty as I see my duty, whether I win or lose…. If we can only change an abominable rule by majority vote, that is in the interests of the Senate and in the interests of the nation that the majority must work its will. And it will work its will.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, May 23, 2005