Sen. Reid Puts Filibuster Reform On The Agenda

Back in the spring, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid turned heads when he said that if his Dems held the Senate, they’d make a serious effort at reining in filibuster abuse. Arguing for reform, he told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz “I don’t want to get rid of the filibuster… I want to change the rules and make the filibuster meaningful.”

We were glad to see Reid doubled down on that promise yesterday, when he announced that filibuster reform will be on the agenda in the 113th Congress. Hopefully, Reid will back up his words with action—we simply can’t afford another gridlocked do-nothing Congress.

Reid went into specifics, saying he wants to “do away with motion to proceed. Just do away with it.” You’ll recall that the Senate has to pass a motion to proceed before formal debate can begin. Passing this used to be a more formality, but partisan Senators have abused the process, grinding the discussion to a halt before it even really gets started, and until they get their way.

We support Senator Reid and other reform-minded senators in their pursuit of restoring democracy in the Senate, but in the meantime, we’ve taken to the courts. One reason is because any attempt to change the filibuster could itself be filibustered. How can you bring sanity to the filibuster rules, if the filibuster rules are already rigged to allow filibusters to any filibuster reforms? It’s a vicious cycle.

Thankfully, Common Cause’s lawsuit to stop the unconstitutional filibuster is chugging along, and our first court date is quickly approaching.

On December 3 a district court will decide whether Common Cause and our allies have standing to sue the Senate to stop the filibuster once and for all and allow the Senate to adopt rules that actually comply with the Constitution. We hold that a dysfunctional legislature harms every American, and deprives us all of our right to have our concerns heard in a fair and majoritarian process.

Widespread filibuster abuse has done irreparable harm to Congress’ approval ratings, and more importantly, to our democratic process. Between a Senate leadership recommitted to reform and our lawsuit, however, things are starting to look brighter for majority rule.

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