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Democrats supporting filibuster

July 28, 2010

As noted yesterday, the filibuster is an exceedingly regressive institutional feature of the US government which goes a long way toward explaining why we’ve failed to enact progressive legislation over the past hundred or so years.  The constitutional option is getting more press lately and it’s interesting to see which democratic senators are siding with the status quo.  Keep in mind that the 60% supermajority requirement is not in the constitution and the filibuster began due to an accident.

Per a post from The Hill , many senate democrats are opposing or refusing to support majoritarian government.  Politicians who support the filibuster must be exposed as puppets for the wealthy magnates who’s biggest fear is the will of the majority.  Has it ever been clearer that progressive change will not happen within the confines of this two party plutocracy?

Five Senate Democrats have said they will not support a lowering of the 60-vote bar necessary to pass legislation.  Another four lawmakers say they are wary about such a change and would be hesitant to support it.

A 10th Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), said he would support changing the rule on filibusters of motions to begin debate on legislation, but not necessarily the 60-vote threshold needed to bring up a final vote on bills.

Other senators who are not co-sponsors of filibuster reform did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Senior Democrats say Reid will not have the votes to change the rule at the beginning of next year.

“It won’t happen,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said she would “probably not” support an effort to lower the number of votes needed to cut off filibusters from 60 to 55 or lower.

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) echoed Feinstein: “I think we should retain the same policies that we have instead of lowering it.  “I think it has been working,” he said.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said he recognizes his colleagues are frustrated over the failure to pass measures such as the Disclose Act, campaign legislation that fell three votes short of overcoming a Republican filibuster Tuesday.

“I think as torturous as this place can be, the cloture rule and the filibuster is important to protect the rights of the minority,” he said. “My inclination is no.”

Sen. Jon Tester, a freshman Democrat from Montana, disagrees with some of his classmates from more liberal states.

“I think the bigger problem is getting people to work together,” he said. “It’s been 60 for a long, long time. I think we need to look to ourselves more than changing the rules.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who is up for reelection in 2012, also said he would like the votes needed for cloture to remain the same.  “I’m not one who think it needs to be changed,” he said.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said they are wary of filibuster reform.

“As frustrating as it has been, I just think we have to be careful about it,” Landrieu said when asked about a rules change to respond to GOP obstruction.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he needed to think about it. Earlier this year, he warned that a change would need to be reviewed carefully.

Marshall Wittman, a spokesman for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), said Lieberman “supported this legislation when it was first introduced 15 years ago, and he will assess the various proposals for filibuster reform when the issue is again considered, which is not expected this year.”

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