Friday, January 25, 2013

Disappointed filibuster reformers: We'll be back!

Reformers pledge to return in two years to try again to reform Senate filibuster rules. Yesterday, their campaign crashed and burned to make senators, you know, actually take the floor and talk in order to stall bills.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, one of the lead reformers, told Greg Sargent at The Washington Post that he'd be back when the next Senate organizes for business. Udall said,
When I started this three years ago, it was pretty lonely. But there are millions of Americans who now want to see a changed Senate. They understand it’s broken. They understand we have to change the way we do business. The Senate is now a graveyard for good ideas, and we need to change that.
Sargent said some good things came out of the effort to restore the talking filibuster:
There is now an infrastructure of outside groups and activists that has shown the ability to mobilize at least some public concern about an extremely arcane problem, dramatizing the need for better governance and the dangerous consequences of having a Senate that has functionally ceased to be a democratic body. What’s more, we’ve now seen that the ongoing influx of energetic and liberal reform-minded Senators has proven able to force the old lions to embrace some reform and to pay lip service to the need to change the way the Senate operates. If reformers maintain that outside infrastructure, and elect more energetic Dems to the Senate, that could boost the possibility of more reform later.
The Fix the Senate Now coalition, to which the Teamsters belong, yesterday expressed disappointment.
...we know enough to sum up the agreement as follows: a missed opportunity to provide meaningful filibuster reform, while advancing some decent procedural improvements.
 Here's how Fix the Senate Now mobilized public concern about the do-nothing Senate:
To support the push for real reform, dozens of organizations involved in the Fix the Senate Now coalition sent over 2.5 million emails to members on the importance of fixing the Senate, leading to 100,000 phone calls and nearly one million petition signatures delivered to Senate offices. The coalition, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Americans who contacted their Senators supporting real change, views the minor reforms likely to take hold as a missed opportunity to deliver a truly functional, deliberative, and accountable U.S. Senate.
The coalition statement recognized the three Democratic senators who advocated tirelessly for reform: Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Udall.

Send them a thank you if they represent you!