Reforming filibuster laws

The Senate must take rudimentary reforms to this procedural tool.

Ronald Dixon

In true Congressional fashion, a fundamental government issue is becoming a partisan political showdown. The Senate is currently debating on changing rules on its use of the filibuster.

The filibuster is a procedural tool that enables the obstruction of debate of Senate bills. Under current rules, a senator can thwart legislation anonymously, preventing harm to their own image. Moreover, senators can conduct the filibuster in a tag-team format, prolonging the filibuster for virtually as long as they like. Finally, in order to end the filibuster, the opposition requires 60 votes, also known as a supermajority.

Unfortunately, all of these procedural delay tactics are easily performed. These blatant acts of obstructionism are common occurrences in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid upset his fellow Democrats by backing out of promises to reform the filibuster. The filibuster has been largely used recently by Republicans to thwart all bills introduced by the 53 Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama.

In an efficient and fair Senate, the rules would be changed so that anonymous filibusters would be eliminated in order for the public to identify the culprits. Moreover, the silent filibuster should be replaced with the “talking filibuster.” This is the kind used in the classic movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” where a senator must continuously speak in order to prevent action in the Senate. Finally, in order to end the filibuster, the effort should be shifted from 60 members who disapprove of the filibuster to 41 senators who want the filibuster to
continue.

I am fundamentally opposed to the notion that senators should be prevented from conducting the business that constituents elected them to perform. In order to enable a more efficient government, the Senate should take bold actions to make rudimentary reforms to the filibuster to reduce abuse, expose the obstructionists and to reverse a trend of congressional disapproval.