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Posted at 2:26 PM ET, 12/14/2010

AFL-CIO, SEIU, Sierra Club and others call for filibuster reform

By Ezra Klein

One thing you're seeing today that you weren't see a few years ago is that Senate reform is now a priority of what we might call "the institutional left." Consider this letter (pdf), which is signed by the Communication Workers of America, the United Steelworkers, the Sierra Club, SEIU, Common Cause, DailyKos, the AFL-CIO and eight other left-leaning heavy-hitters and asks "Senators to move forward with reforms consistent with these eight principles":

1. On the first legislative day of a new Congress, the Senate may, by majority vote, end a filibuster on a rules change and adopt new rules.

2. There should only be one opportunity to filibuster any given measure or nomination, so motions to proceed and motions to refer to conference should not be subject to filibuster.

3. Secret “holds” should be eliminated.

4. The amount of delay time after cloture is invoked on a bill should be reduced.

5. There should be no post-cloture debate on nominations.

6. Instead of requiring that those seeking to break a filibuster muster a specified number of votes, the burden should be shifted to require those filibustering to produce a specified number of votes to continue the filibuster.

7. Those waging a filibuster should be required to continuously hold the floor and debate.

8. Once all Senators have had a reasonable opportunity to express their views, every measure or nomination should be brought to a yes or no vote in a timely manner.

In other words, a combination of Sen. Tom Udall's "Constitutional Option" and Sen. Jeff Merkley's filibuster reform proposal.

By Ezra Klein  | December 14, 2010; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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The Senate will not be reformed any time soon.

It is currently functioning as intended; namely, wealthy Republicans and Democrats run the Senate in a way meant to protect the interests of wealthy people and corporations.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 14, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"...meant to protect the interests of wealthy people and corporations"

Oh, so now corporations aren't actually people. It never ends with you Leftists.

Posted by: willows1 | December 14, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh Yeah...

*NOW* that it looks like a takeover of the Senate in 2012....NOW they want to change the rules!

Go figure!

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | December 14, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"Oh, so now corporations aren't actually people."

No, they are not. And any actual legal blurring of the two can be traced to the GOP and their activist judges.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 14, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The Senate has a choice: enact majority-rule or become irrelevant.

If the Senate doesn't change, deals like the Obama-McConnell tax deal will become the norm. If the only way anything can happen is when the President makes a deal with the leader of the opposing party (minority or majority doesn't matter) in the senate -- then that's the way things will happen. The rest of the legislature, in both houses, will be sidelined.

Posted by: bswainbank | December 14, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"...meant to protect the interests of wealthy people and corporations"

"Oh, so now corporations aren't actually people. It never ends with you Leftists."


Of course, corporations are people! Also, money is speech.

Posted by: paul65 | December 14, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

paul65 - Good, good. Now close your eyes and repeat after me - "Government is the problem...". Your training is almost complete.

Posted by: willows1 | December 14, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"Government is the problem"

I agree

But that's only part of the story. The reason gvmt is the problem is because we allow it to be corrupted by the elite for their own ends and by those who don't believe gvmt can be of ANY use.

When we return the gvmt to the people, it'll be a much better thing.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 14, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Or just maybe that after seeing the GOP minority willfully abuse the rules, they want to change the rules so the Senate actually function.
If they were worried about being in the minority, why would they change the rules that have served the GOP so well while they have been in the minority?

Posted by: rpixley220 | December 14, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I think the only way the Senate will be reformed and the filibuster changed is when the Republicans are in the majority again. They don't believe in government, so they don't care about the rules. If the Democrats tried anything like what the Republicans have pulled in the minority, the Senate's rules would change very quickly.

PS: Government is NOT the problem. BAD government is the problem. No matter how much you hate government, you'll still be governed.

Posted by: qalice1 | December 14, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

3. Secret “holds” should be eliminated.

I'd love to hear how this isn't blatantly unconstitutional in its own right. One person gets to stop something anonymously? Even vetoes can be overriden with enough votes.

Posted by: rpixley220 | December 14, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

This is how you know that liberals are 2 faced liars.

They claim that the 111th congress was one of the most productive congresses in recent memory.

They also claim that the Senate is bottling all progress.

What BS!

Government spending and deficit is at record highs during the Obama administration. We've had legislators try to eliminate entire industies simply because they don't like them.

No, the real problem is that these clowns are trying to command and conquer the once great US economy.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 14, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Actually it can be both. The scope of change that has been passed is quite vast. Healthcare and financial reform to name just two areas. Of course the problems that were dropped onto Obama and the 111th were pretty significant too.
And the sheer number of bills (300+) passed by the House but awaiting action in the Senate speak to the stoppage the GOP has been able to create.
How would you explain voting down health benefits for 9/11 responders?

Posted by: rpixley220 | December 14, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Too bad these liberal regressives didn't think of changing the rules when they controlled the house and the senate with super majorities.......oh oh oh...they only want to change the rules now cause they DON'T control the house and senate, MMMMMMMMM is that fair?

Posted by: JonGalt | December 15, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

One must always consider the source. In this case let's look carefully at who is backing "reform". None other than the public sector union bosses. And why would they want reform? Because they want tax payer money flowing to their members who are forced to pay dues so that the bosses can live well and spend lavishly on political campaigns on behalf of candidates that the unions KNOW will support bigger government and higher wages for its employees.

It is a perfect closed loop and it will turn America into Greece in a single generation.

Mr Klein is just plain shameless. That stands him in good stead as it solidifies his cred as a dyed in the wool, devil take hindmost liberal.

Here is an example of the depraved depths to which civil service unions will stoop to get at our money:
"Christian Schneider, a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, writes of today’s strange happenings in the Badger state:

The state public employee unions are trying to ram through their contracts before the new Governor and Legislature take over in January. This is an unprecedented move – generally, they’re taken up months from now – but they know if they can get them through before the whole state government flips to red, they can get about $154 million in benefits Gov.-Elect Walker had promised to cut.

The vote is expected to be close, and the unions need every vote. So they go pick up a disgraced legislator named Jeff Wood, who is SITTING IN PRISON and drive him down to the Capitol. Wood is in jail on three separate OWI arrests within the span of a year, and lost his seat in the last election. So the fiscal fate of the state rests in the hands of a lame duck legislator who gets a day off from jail to vote the unions better benefits."

(h/t The Corner at NRO)

Yeah, MR Klein, what do you care about taxpayers as long as the liberal agenda continues to advance.

Shameful, disgrace and dishonest. That's today's liberal "elite" journ-o-lister

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 16, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

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