Monday, November 16, 2009

An idea whose time has come

Abolishing the filibuster in the Senate, that is.

Chris Hayes writes about the basic problem with the filibuster rule in What Ails the Senate The Nation 11/04/09 (11/03/09).

The filibuster has become a cancer growing inside the world's greatest deliberative body. What was once a rarely invoked procedural mechanism has metastasized and turned into a de facto supermajority requirement for any legislation. In the 103rd Congress (1993-94) there were forty-six votes on "cloture," the motion to override a filibuster and allow something to be considered on the floor. In the last Congress, the 110th, the first one in which Republicans were in the minority, there were a record 112. Even without the filibuster, our system already has more choke points where legislation can die than almost any other liberal democracy. It's rare for one party to control both houses of Congress and the White House, and to have as solid a majority as the Democrats currently do. But the filibuster confers such power on an obstinate minority that it distorts the relationship between elections and governance in a way that dangerously attenuates democracy itself. [my emphasis]
Also from The Nation on this topic: William Greider, Stop Senator No 12/10/08 (12/29/08 issue); Thomas Geoghegan, The Case for Busting the Filibuster 08/12/09 (08/31/09 issue)

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