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Posted at 6:05 PM ET, 12/22/2010

Senate Democrats support filibuster reform

By Ezra Klein

They say elections have consequences. So too, it turns out, does obstruction. In a move that's as overdue as it is unexpected, every returning Senate Democrat has signed a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid calling for filibuster reform.

The letter is not specific on what sort of reform they'd like to see, but the basic outline looks to take its cues from Sen. Jeff Merkley's proposal: Filibusters would require continuous debate on the floor of the Senate, and they would only be allowed once the bill is on the floor (no more filibustering the motion to debate a bill, for instance). Democrats would also like to see the dead time between calling for a vote to break a filibuster and actually taking the vote reduced. “There need to be changes to the rules to allow filibusters to be conducted by people who actually want to block legislation instead of people being able to quietly say ‘I object’ and go home,” Sen. Claire McCaskill told the National Journal.

None of these changes would reverse the Senate's transformation into a 60-vote institution, of course. Instead, they would speed up and streamline what happens around those votes. While many Americans understand that you need 60 votes to break a filibuster, relatively few realize that you need about a week of floor time on the Senate to even take those votes -- and the minority has been quick to understand that time is precious in the modern Senate, and so the mere threat of a filibuster on less-pressing items like nominations is enough to stop them cold. It's not that Reid doesn't have 60 votes to break the filibuster, but that he doesn't have a week to spend doing it.

It's no surprise that some Senate Democrats want to see the practice reworked. What's remarkable is that all Senate Democrats want to see it reworked. It's not just the young senators like Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall and Michael Bennett, but the older veterans like Barbara Mikulski and Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin.

Their unity stems from an unlikely source: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has mounted more filibusters in the past two years than occurred in the ’50s and ’60s combined. Uncontroversial bills like an extension of unemployment benefits that passed 97-0 and food-safety legislation that passed with 73 votes frequently faced multiple filibusters and months of delay. The minority has been so relentless and indiscriminate in deploying the once-rare failsafe that the majority has finally decided to do something about it.

They may not do much -- at least this year. But even doing a little matters. It puts the minority on notice that the filibuster is not sacrosanct. Having reformed it once, Democrats -- and, of course, Republicans, when they retake the majority -- can reform it again. There is nothing novel about that: In 1917, the Senate voted to allow 67 senators to break a filibuster, and in 1975, the Senate voted to bring that down to 60. Sen. Tom Udall, who's been at the center of the efforts to convince the Senate to begin updating its rulebook with each new Congress, has argued that this knowledge will make both the majority and the minority act more responsibly in the future, as they'll labor under the knowledge that misuse of the rules will mean reform of the rules. If Democrats don't lose their nerve, we'll soon find out whether he's right.

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 6:05 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

I'm a CT voter, and didn't mind Dodd for the most part, but the article points out he was the only Democratic senator not to sign on. It doesn't matter much, since he won't be around to oppose reforms. But does anyone know if Blumenthal is on board? I can't find any public statements of his... I suppose he may need a shove in the right direction?

Posted by: bcurtin144 | December 22, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to say, "better late than never," but in this case, I can't. Assuming they DO reform the filibuster for the next congress, it'll be just in time to "speed up" consideration of bills from the rabidright-wing 112th House, and too late to "speed up" bills that were passed by the 111th House and died in the Senate. You know, the bills that I actually *wanted* to see pass.

Posted by: KarenJG | December 22, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse


Silly Dims this is another leftist journolist pipedream from Klein. It takes a 2/3 majority vote in the Senate to amend any Senate rule. Good luck with that Dims. There are 47 Senate Republicans starting in less than two weeks.

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 22, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse


Surprise surprise the loser Dims who lost six senators in the last election want to strenghthen their feeble majority. This is going nowhere pathetic Dims.

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 22, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Screwjob: It takes a 2/3 vote to alter a Senate rule, but Senate rules themselves are defined at the start of the session, and this is by majority vote. Which is to say that at the start of January, they can, in fact, agree to abide by a different set of rules than applied in the 111th congress. While some might argue that Senate sessions never wholly end (due to the three rotating classes of Senators), my understanding of this is that it's the Vice President (in his capacity presiding over the Senate) that ultimately makes a determination in this matter. Which is to say: not only can they do it, they can get away with it.

Also, are you aware of how petty and childish you seem when you deliberately misspell "Dems"?

Posted by: adamiani | December 22, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I cannot wait to hear the howling on the Republican side of the aisle!

Posted by: will12 | December 22, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

screwjob, a few years ago it was the GOP that threatened the "nuclear option" of eliminating the filibuster. What a pity they didn't flex their muscle then, wasn't it?

Get your head out of Fox and try thinking. When the GOP is filibustering bills THEY PROPOSED, just to try (and fail) to screw Obama, there's a bigger problem than your insipid digs. "America First" was the GOP slogan in 2008. How quickly they showed it was a lie.

Posted by: lmb02 | December 22, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Actually, relatively few Americans understand that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.

There was a public opinion poll on it, and the majority responded that it only took 50 votes to break a filibuster.

Not surprising, because every American high school student is taught that to pass a bill you need a majority in both Houses and the president to sign it.

And until Bob Dole started the practice of a permanent filibuster in 1993, that was actually true.

And as recently as, oh, four years ago under the Bush administration with a Republican Congress, there were many pieces of legislation that did pass with less than 60 votes.

Only in Washington is it conventional wisdom that every bill must have 60 votes in the Senate to pass.

Posted by: dstr | December 22, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse


Pathetic loser Dims the nuclear option was an unconstitutional proposal, a head fake from the GOP.

Silly Dims in 2010 there are 12 Democrat senators running for re-election from states that lost to Republicans in the House elections. Twelve of them. They can see the writing on the wall if you and leftists like Klein can't. They are already holding onto their seats by the skin of their teeth.


Posted by: screwjob23 | December 22, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I think the single best thing the Senate could do would be to reform the rules to make it possible for the majority to rule. This idea that you need 60 votes to even vote on most things and that individual Senators can hold up appointments and bills on their own say-so, for the most flimsy of reasons, is wrong.

Reform the Senate rules.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | December 22, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Even more undemocratic than what's gone on with the cloture votes and the filibuster is the one-Senator holds. These have to be abolished -- it makes a mockery of the constitution for one Senator to be able to thwart the will of the majority. And if there is still going to be the possibilty of a filibuster, fine, but make them really filibuster -- not just stop everything with the threat of a filibuster. It should only take a majority vote to bring anything to a vote, especially nominees. If folks in the minority want to vote against a President's nominee, that's their prerogative and that's what advice and consent is all about, but blocking nominees from ever coming to a vote is totally inconsistent with the balance of power carefully designed by the Founders.

Posted by: fmjk | December 22, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse


By the way when Klein refers to "all returning Democrats" that does not include either the two independents who caucus with the Dims: Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman. Not that Klein is going to tell you that.

Also look up Gang of Fourteen and see that in addition to Lieberman, Democrat senators Inouye, Nelson, Landrieu and Pryor all positioned themselves against the nuclear option the last time this farce came up in the Senate.

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 22, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Silly screwjob, it was a serious proposal. Try doing your own thinking instead of being a mindless Fox troll. Oh, I'm sorry, thinking would mean you'd realise you're actually helping the Democrats. Rock on, silly child, rock on.

Keep drinking your Fox Tea, and fevered fantasies of Palin in charge (oh, she winked at you!).

Posted by: lmb02 | December 22, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse


fillibuster reform is marxism

how to let the few (Democrats) rule the masses

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief | December 22, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful news. Hope it works. Good for the country, regardless of who is in control. Currently the senate (hence, all of congress) is configured to discourage independence of thought and encourage hyper-partisanship. It's a dumb way to run a country.

Happy holidays to responsible posters of all stripes on this blog.

@screwjob23: stay classy, baby.

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | December 22, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes! Reform now. "Filibuster" is an archaic word for Southern politicians being allowed to endlessly waste time, back when Southern politicians were universally hated by the rest of the country. They still aren't popular, but now filibuster is a word for too much Senate power over laws which run this country. Majority rules. Get rid of the filibuster and 60 votes!

Posted by: dudh | December 22, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse


Yes Dims, you too can reform the filibuster rule in the 118th Congress ... if you have the 2/3 majority necessary to amend Senate rules. By the way Senate rules do not "expire" they remain in effect from one Congress to the next unless amended by the Senate in accordance with SENATE RULE XXII.

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 22, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

What a weak BS leftist argument the reason the filibuster was used so extensively was becasue the Dems cut the Republicans out of all the normal legislative processes. If you give me a hammer and there are no other tools than I am going to use the hammer. The Liberals always blame someone else for their problems when the truth is they are the problem. When the country was prosperous and everyone was happy we tolerated the left but now those days are gone due to the policies of the left and the left is a useless appendage that needs to be removed at all costs so that the patient can survive.

Posted by: DCalle10411111 | December 22, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

What a naive Op ed.

Democrats are already close to losing the Senate. If they lose more seats they become a minority without a filibuster.

Posted by: moebius22 | December 22, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

screwjob, a few years ago it was the GOP that threatened the "nuclear option" of eliminating the filibuster. What a pity they didn't flex their muscle then, wasn't it?

Get your head out of Fox and try thinking. When the GOP is filibustering bills THEY PROPOSED, just to try (and fail) to screw Obama, there's a bigger problem than your insipid digs. "America First" was the GOP slogan in 2008. How quickly they showed it was a lie.

Posted by: lmb02

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | December 22, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

And the first thing the Dems must do is stack the federal courts with anti-Scalias. Starting with Goodwin Liu.

Posted by: Garak | December 22, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse


Concrete example Dims New Hampshire which voted for Barry in 2008: Jeanne Shaheen is the only Democrat from New Hampshire who survived the 2010 elections. The only reason Shaheen is still a senator is that she does not have to run for re-election until 2012. In the other Senate seat, Republican Kelly Ayotte slaughtered leftist weasel Dim Paul Hodes in a 60 to 36 carnage. Both Democrat congressmen in the House got voted out of office. Jeanne Shaheen is holding onto her Senate seat by the skin of her teeth. It was a GOP sweep.

Now do you think that Jeanne Shaheen regardless of whether she signed a letter or not, is going to participate in Reid's jiggery-pokery two months after her state just went Republican in a huge way? No way.

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 22, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

"By the way Senate rules do not "expire" they remain in effect from one Congress to the next unless amended by the Senate in accordance with SENATE RULE XXII."

The precedence on this is actually quite murky, and not universally agreed upon (the question of whether the Senate can bind future Senates). In any case, the deciding office is that of the Vice Presidency, which in this instance, strongly suggests a favorable ruling on the point.

Note that proceeding through this motion at the start of a term (if abortively) is what got the filibuster moved to 60 from 67, and a similar outcome is likely here.

Posted by: adamiani | December 22, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Republicans will be happy to stop the Democrats from using the same tactics they did. Democrats may need the filibuster to stop the de facto repeal of Medicare and Social Security.

Posted by: funfun881 | December 22, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

screwjob, as someone who is nominally inclined to agree that the Democrats are irresponsible idiots, I really wish that people like you who were technically "on my side" would keep your mouth shut. You're just damaging your own cause by coming across as stupidly as you do.

Posted by: charlesbakerharris | December 22, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Is this kind of like Mass. when they changed the rules so a republican gov could not appoint a senator it had to be voted on, then Kennedy on his last leg figured it out and they tried to change it back? That election got Scott Brown his seat...it is called karma...

Posted by: independent31 | December 22, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Everyone, if screwjob23 keeps embarrassing him/herself with ridiculous rantings, I suggest you handle it the way we handle any petulant 8-year-old: ignore. I think somebody only wants attention - if there were any serious arguments to be made, this person would have fixed their facts (and their tone) by now.
There are legitimate points to be made on both sides. It would be great if the people in these forums could be a little more adult about it than the average US Senator. Responding to people like that only debases the debate.

Posted by: mdennis74 | December 22, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Having a hard time believing the sincerity of this petition when 5 democratic senators vote against cloture movement on the DREAM act.

If they really believed the procedure was being abused, thwarting majority rule, unfair blah blah blah, would they really have voted against cloture? Against their own party???

They could have allowed cloture, and gone on record voting no afterwords...

Posted by: MattSully | December 22, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

screwjob23: You're wrong - no surprise there. It only takes a simple majority to change the rules in the Senate for that session. Look it up, if you know how to (it's called research), before you shoot your trap off & look like a fool. But then again, I'm sure you're used to looking like a fool. Your handle says it all.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 22, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping for more profound changes to the rules, but this is a pretty good start. At least we'll see if McConnell & his cronies have the stamina (intestinal & otherwise) to stand & whine for hours & hours, on camera & live. Obstructionism will be live & on view for the American people.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 22, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Seems kinda short-sighted and petulant. 59 senators. if you can't pass something with 59 senators, then you might have an unpopular idea. The Dems loved the rules when they were in the minority, which they'll be again eventually. Is our problem that we don't pass enough legislation? There are literally thousands of federal laws on the books, so it's not slowing the congress down all that much. It's a disappointment that so many Americans look to the government to solve their problems. I recommend waking up every day and solving your own. Of course, bellying up to the public trough is easier...

Posted by: phiggits | December 22, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Seems kinda short-sighted and petulant. 59 senators. if you can't pass something with 59 senators, then you might have an unpopular idea. The Dems loved the rules when they were in the minority, which they'll be again eventually. Is our problem that we don't pass enough legislation? There are literally thousands of federal laws on the books, so it's not slowing the congress down all that much. It's a disappointment that so many Americans look to the government to solve their problems. I recommend waking up every day and solving your own. Of course, bellying up to the public trough is easier...

Posted by: phiggits | December 22, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Seems kinda short-sighted and petulant. 59 senators. if you can't pass something with 59 senators, then you might have an unpopular idea. The Dems loved the rules when they were in the minority, which they'll be again eventually. Is our problem that we don't pass enough legislation? There are literally thousands of federal laws on the books, so it's not slowing the congress down all that much. It's a disappointment that so many Americans look to the government to solve their problems. I recommend waking up every day and solving your own. Of course, bellying up to the public trough is easier...

Posted by: phiggits | December 22, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Seems kinda short-sighted and petulant. 59 senators. if you can't pass something with 59 senators, then you might have an unpopular idea. The Dems loved the rules when they were in the minority, which they'll be again eventually. Is our problem that we don't pass enough legislation? There are literally thousands of federal laws on the books, so it's not slowing the congress down all that much. It's a disappointment that so many Americans look to the government to solve their problems. I recommend waking up every day and solving your own. Of course, bellying up to the public trough is easier...

Posted by: phiggits | December 22, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Most Senators, including Senator Feinstein just a few months ago, are on record of opposing changes to the filibuster rule. Perhaps now that Senators are starting to loose their seats because of public dissatisfaction, Senators are starting to listen to complaints about their procedural rules that effectively block much, if not most, legislation from a final vote.

Senator Specter, in his farewell speech today on the floor of the Senate, faulted not only the filibuster but the rule letting the majority leader decide which amendments to bills to bring to the floor for a vote. This rule has effectively let the majority view on an issue block other views from being considered and voted on - obviously not the way the Senate was ever intended to operate.

Perhaps when the Senate reconvenes in January it'll consider changing the filibuster and other decidedly undemocratic rules and listen to those Senators, like Senator Harkin, who have consistently advocated a rule change.

All it takes is a simple majority vote and this can be done at any time during the year (not just at the beginning of the year) because the Constitution only requires a majority vote on most issues except ratification of a treaty (which requires a 2/3 vote of those present).

According to past Senate parliamentarians the Senate and other Constitutional scholars, the Senate is more of an informal body than a formal one and many, if not most matters, are decided beforehand behind closed doors. This should be quite apparent to anyone taking the time to watch Senate proceedings on C-Span.

Posted by: billeisen1 | December 22, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

sorry for the multiple posts. something went haywire!

Posted by: phiggits | December 22, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Good, I think everybody can agree that a filibuster should actually require somebody going up to the podium and speaking, rather than just a simple procedural vote. If you and 40 other Senators care about something enough to stop it with a filibuster, then they should have to listen to you drawl hour on end from today's classified section.

Posted by: venicep | December 22, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

The senate is an inherently undemocratic body to begin with. Wyoming has the same number of senators as California. Why should we allow the senators to make it even more undemocratic? The U.S. constitution no where provides for a fillibuster. Fifty one votes should be sufficient to pass or defeat any legislation in the senate.

Posted by: smi2le | December 22, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Pure, utter lies from the leftists.

Just look at the Obama/Biden filibuster on Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito who was confirmed with 58 votes.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 22, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

To screwjob23:

Charles Krauthammer is that you? Stop hiding under a pseudonym! By the way, screwjob23 is an appropriate name for a Republican considering that the GOP has been screwing Americans for decades...

Posted by: mcls1442 | December 22, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Reform of the Senate rules regarding filibusters is long overdue. It is amusing that the rightwing radicals who are always referring to constitutional government don't seem to mind that the clear intent of the Constitution, which is majority rule, is being flaunted every time mindless McConnell filibusters. I am encouraged that a number of Republicans chose to ignore the mindless one and vote for bi-partisan legislation this past week. There may still be hope that the Republicans can put the interests of the country above their partisan interests.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 22, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Reform of the Senate rules regarding filibusters is long overdue. It is amusing that the rightwing radicals who are always referring to constitutional government don't seem to mind that the clear intent of the Constitution, which is majority rule, is being flaunted every time mindless McConnell filibusters. I am encouraged that a number of Republicans chose to ignore the mindless one and vote for bi-partisan legislation this past week. There may still be hope that the Republicans can put the interests of the country above their partisan interests.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 22, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Reform of the Senate rules regarding filibusters is long overdue. It is amusing that the rightwing radicals who are always referring to constitutional government don't seem to mind that the clear intent of the Constitution, which is majority rule, is being flaunted every time mindless McConnell filibusters. I am encouraged that a number of Republicans chose to ignore the mindless one and vote for bi-partisan legislation this past week. There may still be hope that the Republicans can put the interests of the country above their partisan interests.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 22, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Morons, the filibuster is a grand check on one party rule, why in the hell with minority status staring you in the face in the 2012 would you give it up? The repubs were idiots to consider it, now you too?
Kline is just another spokesman for the far left, and you scoff at fox news?
Paybacks are hell and January will bring a big chill to the WP.
You lost, not just this election but even more.
The nation doesn't share your euro-UN view of the US.
They voted you out and they aren't done yet.

Posted by: Saladin3 | December 22, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Call them back next week and do this. It is a MUST to start to restore democracy to the US congress. It will be bad enough with cry baby and the tea baggers playing games isntead of working over in the House. The senate has got to lead for the next 2 years until we can restore Speaker Pelosi to her place wielding the gavel and begin the second term of the President. The best we can hope for over the next 2 years is that the republicons won't stall too much of the work of the people for their silly riendeer games.

Posted by: John1263 | December 22, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Screwjob makes many valid points about the reality of modern politics and the worthlessness of this letter. Yet his use of the term 'Dims' just dampens his argument. Of course, it also gets old whenever the majority here assumes anyone objecting to this administration and the liberal agenda is a stooge for Fox News and a fan of Sarah Palin.

Posted by: lingering_lead | December 22, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

"fillibuster reform is marxism

how to let the few (Democrats) rule the masses

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief"

I haven't looked it up (why bother?) but I doubt Marx had anything whatever to say about filibusters or their reform. Oh, wait: to you dimwits "marxism" is a synonym for anything you don't like or understand. That's why you call so many things "marxism."

Posted by: thrh | December 22, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Mitch Mc Connell has issued more filibusters in two years than were issued in the entire two decades of the 50s and 60s! This tells me just about everything I need to know about this statesman.

Posted by: sls213 | December 22, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Lock the minority out of offering amendments and they filibuster.

So, change the filibuster rules and continue to limit amendments and...

Become the minority!

Every Republican that I know is looking forward to 2012.

Of course, they are looking forward to election results. I just don't care (both parties suck!) but I am looking forward to the whining of the Journolist!

Posted by: TECWRITE | December 22, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Much of the public frustration about the U.S. Congress is due to the abuse of the Senate filibuster. Much of it has been Obama's overzealous desire to cave to the demands of the minority party in the Senate, resulting in watered down legislation that lacks the teeth necessary for real reform.

Once again, we have seen a familiar pattern emerge: Republicans tend to be ruthless, whereas Democrats tend to be gutless.

The Senate Democrats will have a rare opportunity with the start of the new Congress -- revise the filibuster rules or suffer the consequences. Otherwise, Obama will need to change his mantra from "Yes We Can!" to "Let's Not and Say We Did".

Posted by: labman57 | December 22, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

"This filibuster is nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority".

Senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist, 2004.

Posted by: twm1 | December 23, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the immature, senile McConnell is almost the only reason the law needs changing. He is such a baby with his selfish tantrums, I can't imagine how he ever got elected??

Actually, if the Democrats could lower themselves to be the disgusting obstructionists the Republicans have been this entore session, the Republicans wouldn't be able to accomplish any of their dastardly plans. NONE are in the interest of the PEOPLE anyway; they are specifically childish revenge and greed!

THEIR version of a health care bill will try to give the health care billionaire industries all their rip-off benefits back, which ELIMINATION of that ripping off was the BEST part of Obama's plan. BOTH parties have been TRYING to accomplish national healthcare for decades. The Republicans just want the credit with none of the work!

Posted by: Maerzie | December 23, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Screwjob, do you have any purpose but to be an irritating jackass?

Posted by: larry9 | December 23, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Amen. Reform is long overdue. If you want to fillibuster, then do so. Judging by the willingness of the Republican cowards to fold up under the pressure of Christmas holiday time off I guess that they might actually decide that they should only fillibuster those things they are really against versus the last two years when the fillibustered about everything. What I found troubling is the bills that were fillibustered that were ultimately passed with large majorities. Just shows the hypocritical nature of McConnell and his lackeys. It will be a great day for America if the Senate gets back to legislating instead of obstructing. But what would you expect from a Party that a, takes their marching orders from right wing talk radio and Fox News and b, wants to see an American president fail. The lack of patriotism displayed by the Republicans in the Senate the last two years has been disgraceful. Perhaps they will go home, enjoy Christmas and the remaining days of the holiday season and come back ready to do the nation's and not the party's business.

Posted by: army164 | December 23, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

The Republican wrecking crew, led by jowly Senator McConnell and too-tan Congressman Boehner, have demonstrated beyond doubt that they value their party politics above needs of the American people. McConnell said as much: that his No. 1 goal is to see our president denied a second term.
Needs and wishes of the American people obviously ranks far down both these losers' lists.
I've been thinking for months now that we, the American voters, have a big bushing surprise for these right-wing political sabateurs in 2012.
Obam a is back!

Posted by: jimsteinberg1 | December 23, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
23 December 2010

The sensible way to "reform" the mechanism of Filibuster in the U.S. Senate is to do away with it completely and forever.

It should be noted that filibustering is not among the powers granted to the Senate in the U.S. Constitution.

Filibuster gives one Senator the despotic power to prevent a Bill or a Resolution of the Senate ever to pass, if such cannot muster the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster.

This is undemocratic. And it is in effect a tyranny of One. "Defensor tyrannus!"

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | December 23, 2010 3:59 AM | Report abuse

"Seems kinda short-sighted and petulant. 59 senators. if you can't pass something with 59 senators, then you might have an unpopular idea. The Dems loved the rules when they were in the minority, which they'll be again eventually. Is our problem that we don't pass enough legislation?"

My sentiments exactly. The Dems are stupid enuf to consider this in an election cycle when 22 out of the 33 Senate seats coming up are going to be Demonrat-held. If the Repubs take over in 2012, turnabout is fair play, although the lyin' cheating Dems are never good at fair play and the GOP might even go back to the old rule.

Hey MPatalinjug, go back to the monkey country you came from, and stop staining your underwear here. Yonkers is a depository of human sewage and you fit the bill. The filibuster used to be 67 votes and the Senate was put there precisely to stop shitheads like yourself from rushing things through.

Posted by: djman1141 | December 23, 2010 4:39 AM | Report abuse

"Seems kinda short-sighted and petulant. 59 senators. if you can't pass something with 59 senators, then you might have an unpopular idea. The Dems loved the rules when they were in the minority, which they'll be again eventually. Is our problem that we don't pass enough legislation?"

My sentiments exactly. The Dems are stupid enuf to consider this in an election cycle when 22 out of the 33 Senate seats coming up are going to be Demonrat-held. If the Repubs take over in 2012, turnabout is fair play, although the lyin' cheating Dems are never good at fair play and the GOP might even go back to the old rule.

Hey MPatalinjug, go back to the monkey country you came from, and stop staining your underwear here. Yonkers is a depository of human sewage and you fit the bill. The filibuster used to be 67 votes and the Senate was put there precisely to stop shitheads like yourself from rushing things through.

Posted by: djman1141 | December 23, 2010 4:39 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, your JournoList seems to still be functioning as a lot of its usual retards are staining their underwear online. When are you going to give us a complete list, you traitor dwarf?

Posted by: djman1141 | December 23, 2010 4:48 AM | Report abuse

I think the single best thing the Senate could do would be to reform the rules to make it possible for the majority to rule. This idea that you need 60 votes to even vote on most things and that individual Senators can hold up appointments and bills on their own say-so, for the most flimsy of reasons, is wrong.

Reform the Senate rules.

Posted by: tinyjab40
-------------------------
We need to proceed carefully on this. The Democrats did not support reform when they were the minority party. Moreover, some very serious decisions require not just a bare majority but a super majority to reflect the seriousness of the issues.

If 51 votes were enough, we would seesaw from election to election with now the Republicans and then the Democrats bullying everyone else. That would not be healthy.

There has to be some consistency between different senates.

Posted by: rjpal | December 23, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

How about we end the favorite practice of Harry Reid of sticking things in there at the last minute that has nothing to do with bill ? How many democrats will go for that ? I thought so.

Posted by: votingrevolution1 | December 23, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

They can't spend our money (and our kid's money and China's money) fast enough?

Better streamline it.

Posted by: andrew23boyle | December 23, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Senate Rule 22 that requires a 60 vote count for closing discussion was a Democrat invention so it stands to reason that the Democrats who have found themselves soundly beaten by their own rule would want to change it. Ask any Senator and he/she will tell you that they have the God-given right to talk as long as they want on any bill in representing their state. And that's a good thing. At the same time the Democrats push for more discussion, they should also push to exclude non-related items from any bill whether those earmarks are financial or otherwise.

Posted by: wantingbalance | December 23, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Of course, there has to be fillibuster reform....at very least, the person requesting a "hold" should be transparent and the person fillibustering should have to stay on the floor and speak his/her mind for the duration. Other than that, all should be brought to votes on any bill and names should be made public by the media so that all of us know how each Senator or Congressman has voted on any bill.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | December 23, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Well my fellow Americans the unofficial official propaganda outlet for the Democrat Party for Washington DC, the Washington POST and their staff of left-wing Journolists have a blitzkrieg of Pro-Obama "stories" out here today to "move the masses" towards their hero again.

I guess this is the beginning of our dirty dishonest liberal/progressive MSM wolfpack presses attempt to Re-install our Great Divider-in-Chief in 2012.....

Yep the institution that helped install/elect Obama in November 2008 is in full "blitzkrieg" support of Obama today.

Sure hope Obama prays everyday to God for the great "Press".......lol

Is it 2012 yet?

Posted by: allenridge | December 23, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

So I guess we now know the propaganda line Klein and the other MSM leftist cadres have decided to spew across multiple media outlets. Look for interpretations of this same deception in the New York Times and other DNC-controlled rags.

Who's on your Journolist nowadays, Ezra?

Posted by: hill_marty | December 23, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Be rid of filibusters and anonymous holds. They serve no useful purpose. Also, votes on a bill should need a simple majority to pas, not some arbitrary higher number. And, make a permanent set of rules. Changing the rules everytime the other party gains the majority is not productive.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 23, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I hope the Democrats do pass filibuster "reform". That way when the Republicans take control of the Senate in 2012, probably with a fairly small majority, they can ram through, with the help of a Republican House and President, whatever legislation they want without the Democrats being able to doing anthing about it. Sounds great.

Posted by: RobT1 | December 23, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I have no problem with the filibuster as long as it is carried out in the spirit the Founding Fathers intended. Clearly, the republicans have violated that spirit because they have turned the filibuster into a brick wall to essentially stop anything the opposition passes in the House.

Look. The old analogy of the House being the boiling tea and the Senate being the cooling saucer should guide the filibuster process. What the republicans in this 111th Congress have done is completely pour the tea out leaving the cup completely empty. That is until suddenly, they were placed into a position themselves of having to be responsible and govern owing to the recent election. Apparently, the GOP just realized what the real message of the election is: Get to work! Deal! Compromise! Reach across the aisle! Send the Tea Party packing! The people want action, not romantic fantasies about going back to 1776!

Posted by: jaxas70 | December 23, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Well, RobT1, the problem with your hope is that historically The GOP is loathe to do much of anything other than simply cut taxes. Cutting taxes is a fine thing but you ultimately reach a point where cutting taxes deprives the government of carrying out basic functions.

And one other thing. Once the public catches on that while they may have a little more money in their pockets owing to tax cuts, what good does it do them if the freeways are in a state of disrepair, the electrical grid is failing, social instability and public anger is on the rise owing to a declining social safety net, we fall further and further behind other nations on a range of metrics involving education, infrastructure, industrial policy and yes, even military capability.

I think you are likely to find that even the most conservative republicans will get a message from the people if they overreach and try to saddle the nation with some rigid ideological agenda they don't really want.

Posted by: jaxas70 | December 23, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Excellent ideas. The current filibuster rules allow blockage by simply saying "filibuster." Coburn & other serial obstructionists need to be forced onto the floor and into the eyes of the American people. If what they are trying to block is truly odious, those senators will be hailed as heroes. If they are simply being gadflies, that should also be shown.

Posted by: SageThrasher | December 23, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

97 - 0? 0? How can you have a filibuster with 0? Are non-senators doing it? How did whoever was filibustering get out of the mental hospital? Did they cut the funding and close it? What kind of rule allows 0 senators against a bill to stop the work of congress?

Posted by: scottilla | December 23, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Reform is sorely needed. In this dangerous world with Iran, North Korea and the Taliban. we don't need a homegrown political party, working against us. Senate should be more responsive. I have to switch channels when some of those political maggots, McConnell,Coburn, McKaine are on with sdome nonsense.

Posted by: tmd678 | December 23, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Cloture is the the result of an ambitious agenda pushed through committees, not political obstructionism. The reason why cloture worked as well as it did is that not every Democrat realized the bills were imperfect and required debate. The Republicans merely gave debate and centrist Democrats an opportunity to stifle an ambitious Senate leadership from pushing through bills.

If you're looking for someone to blame for this dreadful process, take a look in the mirror Mr. Klein. It was the progressive wing of the Democrats that were shouting with joy "We have the numbers to repeat the 'success' of the LBJ's Great Society legislatures" and "we don't need a single Republican vote." That brash exuberance was not shared by all and led to strategies to counter or at least delay the progressives' goals.

Posted by: cprferry | December 23, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Silly Dims this is another leftist journolist pipedream from Klein. It takes a 2/3 majority vote in the Senate to amend any Senate rule. Good luck with that Dims. There are 47 Senate Republicans starting in less than two weeks.

Posted by: screwjob23

***************

Um, no. At the opening session of the new term the rules, and any changes to those rules, are adopted by a simple majority. At any other time a rule change requires 2/3, but not at the very very start.

Posted by: kguy1 | December 23, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

It's funny. There are articles on one hand about this very productive lame duck session.

Articles on the other hand pushing changes to fillibusters.

In case you meatheads who can't figure out 1+1 when decent moderate legislation is proposed it will be passed.

Posted by: Cryos | December 23, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

fillibuster reform is marxism

how to let the few (Democrats) rule the masses

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief

---------------------------------------

Um, actually the filibuster rules were put in place to prevent the majority from running roughshod over the minority, so you have it exactly backwards.

Posted by: js_edit | December 23, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Reform minded Democrats always pop up when the power shifts away from them to the real party of the People!

The real obstructionists to Obama's agenda were those few Democrats who generally refused to roll over for Obama and play dead.

In spite of the Lefty media's continual attempt to mischaracterize events, the Republicans were unable to affect Obama's agenda until after Election2010...and thus he finally was forced to act in a biPartisan way .... disbelieve the truth at your own peril.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | December 23, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

tmd678 |.... WoW ... a typical erudite Libdem ... your knowledge base must be extensive ... LOL

Posted by: Hazmat77 | December 23, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Beware of (right wing) Geeks bearing gifts!

Don't give up the filibuster when the 46 repugs + 4 corporate Dems (and there are far more than 4 in the Senate) can decide the fate of legislation. We were pissed about the "nuclear option" during W's administration- we may be stripping away our own power.

Debate and actually staying on the floor rather than just threatening are good ideas- getting rid of the filibuster is a bad idea- until we get a more representative government- with more than 2 corrupt or inept parties- and I am not holding my breath for parliamentary representation.

Posted by: NYClefty | December 23, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

For the past 6 years the Democratic party has controlled both the house and the senate. They tried to claim that the legislation they passed this month was a result of bipartisan cooperation but actually it was the Democratic party getting what they wanted. Now they want to change the rules - so they can still get what they want. They still have a majority in the senate and will get what they want done anyway.

Posted by: tenshi1 | December 23, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Both republicans and democrats should support not just changing the rule on filibuster, but doing away with it and going to a majority vote on all matters. Let's have a real democracy rather than the now too often rule by the minority.

Posted by: gparker1 | December 23, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Hazmat77-

The real party of the People? The Republican Party?? This, the party that stood in the way of universal health care for the American people? The party that was ready to end extended unemployment benefits, to the detriment not only of people out of work, but the nation's economy? The party that opposed financial regulatory reform? The party that wanted not to give middle class people a tax break unless the wealthy got it too at the cost of 70 billion annually to the budget? The party that stood in the doorway to block equal rights for gay and lesbian people, and before this stood in the way of progress for black people? Just what people are you talking about...? You have got to be kidding!

Posted by: gparker1 | December 23, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Ezra-- I like the way you point out the the 'evil' Mitch McConnel has used the filibuster more in the last two years than was used in the entire 50's and 60's but you CANNOT bring yourself to point out that your messiah president has a budget deficit, in one year mind you, that is higher than the sum of every year since this country was founded. Can you explain that to the sheep that follow your every quip?? Ehh? Hmm...
Didn't think so.

Posted by: jellymon | December 23, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

There should be a simple majority as our constitution directs to get any bill passed or any advisor consented. Only lifetime appointments to the federal bench should be subject to cloture. P.S. for the conservative fools posting here Alito was not clotured getting the nod from only 58 senators.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 23, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Morons, the filibuster is a grand check on one party rule, why in the hell with minority status staring you in the face in the 2012 would you give it up? The repubs were idiots to consider it, now you too?
Kline is just another spokesman for the far left, and you scoff at fox news?
Paybacks are hell and January will bring a big chill to the WP.
You lost, not just this election but even more.
The nation doesn't share your euro-UN view of the US.
They voted you out and they aren't done yet.

Posted by: Saladin3
===========================================
The nation does not share the GOP views with less than a 30% approval rating. The rust belt went big to the Dems in 08 not getting any jobs with the GOP in charge, they went big to the GOP in 2010 not getting any jobs, 2012 still will have no jobs there and my guess is Pelosi may become speaker again. All the votes against the Zadroga bill financed by taxing outsourcing companies will slap many in the GOP off the side of the head as well as the unemployed held up for millionaires to get their share.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 23, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Tenshi1: just to correct your post. The Dems took control of the house and senate in 2006 (2010-2006=4). That is 4 years ago. For the first two years of that 2006-2008- they had a slim (1 vote) majority in the Senate and a small margin in the house. They also had a president who could veto anything that they did. The house has passed ambitious progressive legislation for the last 2 years with little or no help from the white house or the senate.

Posted by: NYClefty | December 23, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree the filibuster rule should be amended. I believe it would be both strengthened and made more meaningful if Senators had to actually conduct a filibuster rather than merely threaten it. And conduct in on the bill itself, not as a procedural move.

Posted by: gloriawoods | December 24, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

the filibuster is like anything else that can be abused, hindsight is only as good as foresight with protection and prevention.

Posted by: Bush4Democratsnow | December 27, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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