The filibuster is one of the biggest barriers to progress in our country.
This antiquated provision in Senate procedure has given a minority of right-wing senators the ability to paralyze the Senate.
It's the reason there was no public option in health care reform, financial reform didn't end "too big to fail," and the DREAM Act never made it to the Senate floor.
Every two years there's an opportunity to reform the filibuster by a majority vote at the beginning of a new Congress.
The next chance to do so will come up in a few weeks, but if we miss this opportunity we will not have a chance to fix the filibuster until 2014.
The filibuster of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" no longer exists.
Today's filibuster doesn't require opponents of a bill to make their case on the Senate floor. Instead filibusters now require very little time or effort, which has led to widespread abuse by the conservative minority.
While filibusters used to be extremely rare, right-wing senators are now routinely stopping bills and nominees that a majority favors.
Two years ago, there was movement to fix the filibuster until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cut a bad deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that killed the reform effort.
We can't allow the Senate to once again take a pass on meaningful reform of the filibuster. We simply cannot afford another two years of Senate paralysis and dysfunction.
So this time around, we're working to create momentum behind a strong package of reforms championed by Sen. Jeff Merkley, including the "talking filibuster" which requires senators to speak on the Senate floor in order to continue debate and prevent a vote.
Unfortunately a bipartisan group of more conservative senators have announced a much weaker proposal (called the McCain/Levin proposal) that would not fix the Senate's dysfunction but could have the effect of scuttling the meaningful filibuster reform. And in some ways the McCain/Levin proposal could be worse than the status quo.
We need to speak out and make sure the Senate confronts this issue head on and passes a strong reform package that includes the "talking filibuster."
Abuse of the filibuster has reduced the Senate to an arena where petty political posturing and the casual and callous disregard for the crises we face as a country can bring the business of the legislative branch of our government to a grinding halt.
In a few weeks, the Senate will be able to change the filibuster rules with a simple majority vote.
We need to speak out now to make sure that Democrats lead with a strong package of reforms that includes the "talking filibuster," and don't fall prey to the weaker bipartisan proposal which will effectively kill our efforts to actually fix the filibuster.Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
P.S. Some progressives oppose efforts to reform the filibuster because they anticipate times when the filibuster will be used by a progressive minority to stop the overreach of a conservative majority.
If you look at the totality of how the filibuster has been used, it has on rare occasion achieved tactical success for progressives. But on the whole it has proved a strategic disaster for those who fight for social change.
The filibuster systematically works against those who want the government to function, who want to see our legislators address problems and fix things, and who want the government to move us past old prejudices and hateful laws written in the bad blood of our forebears.
And given the craven, callous disregard of Senate Republicans for the multiple crises we face as a nation, given their utter willingness to place political ambition and partisan gain over the need to legislate, is there any doubt that they will have the slightest scruples in eliminating the filibuster when it's to their advantage?
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