Will the 112th senate on January the 5th , 2011 convene as a continuing body, as it has in the past, with all the old rules intact? Or should it use, as has been called, the “constitutional option” and convene as a new body and reform the rules, especially the filibuster rules? This is a rare opportunity when a simple majority rules and cannot be put on a hold or filibustered by a single senator.
As reported in many publications all new and returning Democratic Senators have signed a letter pledging to have filibuster reform.
From the National Journal:
“All Democratic senators returning next year have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging him to consider action to change long-sacrosanct filibuster rules. “
What will be the new rules? Should the liberal democrats jeopardize the filibuster now, knowing that they will at some time again be in the minority, and pass their agenda in the short term and face the consequences in the long term? Are they that confident that “once done” it is more difficult “undone’? Are they attempting to do what is good for the country and not just the party or is this a but a folly? Should the senate remain as the “cooling saucer” for the house’s morning cuppa?
Some of the most progressive Senators (Tom Udall -D. NM., Tom Harkin, D-IW, Sherrod Brown , D-OH,……..Think that the time is ripe to both move the country forward, while still protecting the minority party’s rights.
“Although Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa., has long backed filibuster reform, Senate rules changes have primarily been pushed this year by newer members, including Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Udall; and McCaskill.
I have read the proposal by Jeff Merkley, D-ORE, and find his ideas quite thoughtful. Please take a moment to read.
Right now, both the Senate and the country can be crippled by one senator , perhaps one from a state that has less population in their state than a county/district in many states. While some like to believe we live in a rural setting, over 80% of the population lives, commutes and depends on an urban center. No, we cannot all step out on the back porch and shoot ourselves dinner, pick our salad and veges or catch the meal in the local brook, yet some senators think we can, and block an amendment/bill that may benefit the majority of the populace.
Should we continue to have one senator block a bill paying for the medical care for the 9/11 workers? Should we allow nameless senators filibuster unemployment benefits without a tax cut for the top 2%? Let them stand on the floor and defend their convictions? Let them debate in what is supposed to be a”the greatest debating institution in the world” instead of hiding behind a curtain of rules. If they believe in their convictions, I say let them stand on the floor of the Senate and defend them! The rules, as they stand now, are no better than “hiding behind your mamas apron” or “my daddy can beat up your daddy.”
They don’t even have to go to the floor to object to a bill going forward.
A senator can stop a bill with zero transparency.
Is there a way to both satisfy and protect the minority and fulfill the constitutional requirement calling for the “general welfare”?
Progressive or regressive, my POV is defend it, on the floor of the, allegedly, most deliberative body in the world, minus the endless quorum calls, while they fight over rules and bills behind the curtains.
Beyond my POV, I wish all to study this question. I invite a discussion on our Planet and whatever your thoughts may be write your senators.
Regardless of my or your thoughts and options, the time is ripe and it appears that change is ahead. The first change in senate rules since 1975, and a major change.