Friday, August 20, 2010

Fixing Congress - Step # 2

The filibuster, also known as Senate Rule 22, allows a minority group of Senators to keep any bill or appointment from ever coming to a vote.  In the past, a Senator would take the floor and just talk about any topic and keep legislation tied up.  Today, you don't even have to talk a bill to death, you just have to indicate you're willing to filibuster.  Southern Senators used this technique very effectively to block civil rights and anti-lynching laws. 

The problem is, unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate has unlimited debate.  The House did away with it's filibuster technique in 1842.  It's time for the Senate to follow suit.  When I am King, every bill reported out of committee will be voted on after allowing 10 hours of debate. This will cause a novel event to occur -- majority rule.  If you don't like the decisions of the majority, you'll be able to vote them all out of office every four years (see Fix #1).  Let's give Democracy a chance.

13 comments:

  1. I'm of two minds here - On the one hand I certainly agree with you, on the other I like the idea of the ability to stop really bad legislation as a last resort. I'm not 100% sure that they need to change Rule 22 so much as truly enforce it - There is no "threat" of filibuster, to oppose it, you'll need to *actually* filibuster. I would bet that would stop a LOT of the nonsense.

    BTW - I got here via Jen's blog...

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  2. Tend to agree with Jim, leave rule 22 alone but make them really stand there and talk, no bathroom breaks either.

    Also came here via Jen.

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  3. It's a nice idea. The flaw I see in it is that the people that are currently blocking legislation through filibuster will simply prevent bills they don't like from ever getting through committee.

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  4. I did some interesting reading a while back on the filibuster, it was an article from the seventies when the Senate was debating the filibuster rules to give us the ones we have now. I'm not sure we need to do away with the filibuster, but we certainly should change the rules. The current rules require 60 votes to overturn a filibuster. At the very least we should instead require 60% of the present members to overturn a filibuster. That would mean that if you want a filibuster, you have to get your folks to at least show up. As to real vs. threatened filibuster, it's my understanding that that is a decision made by the Senate Majority Leader, who can decide to call the filibusterer's bluff but never does anymore. Maybe Harry Reid just needs to grow a pair.

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  5. Cool post. and i liked the one comment about Harry Reid needing to grow a pair LMAO

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  6. I'm absolutely with Warner. The filibuster should be available as a last resort tool but it should require real effort and commitment -- make em stand there and talk.

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  7. I don't know if 10 hours is enough time but there should be some limit. If nothing else, the amount of times something can be filibustered, given how many votes are required to bring things to a vote to begin with (all those readings, agreement to vote etc.), is mornoic.

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  8. "mornoic" ... yeah, I know.

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  9. Sitting up here in the Great White North, I'd have to say that filibuster isn't the problem. It's that we view legislation as being punitive. If we made it compulsory to attach a sunset clause to every piece of legislation, requiring it to be re-examined at a later date to see if it is actually doing what was intended, we might be a little more accommodating about attempts to balance out the system. Restructure tax law? I might be a little less worried if I knew that the law came back for review in (for example) seven years to see if it was working. This current debate seems to make my point; the tax cut is set to expire. Debate on its value ensues. Modifications may be made. Funny, that looks a lot like democracy. Filibuster? Meh, it isn't really an issue, is it? It's annoying, but at heart, it's simply a guarantee of the right to speak. At least that's how it looks from north of the border....

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  10. Sitting up here in the Great White North, I'd have to say that filibuster isn't the problem. It's that we view legislation as being punitive. If we made it compulsory to attach a sunset clause to every piece of legislation, requiring it to be re-examined at a later date to see if it is actually doing what was intended, we might be a little more accommodating about attempts to balance out the system. Restructure tax law? I might be a little less worried if I knew that the law came back for review in (for example) seven years to see if it was working. This current debate seems to make my point; the tax cut is set to expire. Debate on its value ensues. Modifications may be made. Funny, that looks a lot like democracy. Filibuster? Meh, it isn't really an issue, is it? It's annoying, but at heart, it's simply a guarantee of the right to speak. At least that's how it looks from north of the border....

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  11. I'm absolutely with Warner. The filibuster should be available as a last resort tool but it should require real effort and commitment -- make em stand there and talk.

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  12. I'm of two minds here - On the one hand I certainly agree with you, on the other I like the idea of the ability to stop really bad legislation as a last resort. I'm not 100% sure that they need to change Rule 22 so much as truly enforce it - There is no "threat" of filibuster, to oppose it, you'll need to *actually* filibuster. I would bet that would stop a LOT of the nonsense.

    BTW - I got here via Jen's blog...

    ReplyDelete