Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tell your senators today: Let the majority rule in the Senate

The Employee Free Choice Act would be the law of the land today if it weren't for the modern filibuster. In 2008, the bill making it easier to organize a union passed the House and had majority support in the Senate. But it was extremely easy for anti-worker senators to prevent a vote on the bill. All they had to do was to get 41 people to vote to continue debate. No one had to stand up and talk ... and talk ... and talk ... to kill a bill.

It wasn't just EFCA that got bottled up in the Senate. The House in 2008-09 passed 435 pieces of legislation, many of them helpful to working people. They weren't discussed for a second in the Senate because anti-worker extremists in the Senate easily prevented it.

In other words: The majority doesn't rule in the Senate any more.

Our brothers and sisters at the Communications Workers of America want to change that. Today is a call-in day to Fix the Filibuster. Call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and tell your Senator to end silent filibusters.

The Teamsters are supporting the Fix the Senate Now proposal, which would require senators to actually stand up and talk -- the way Jimmy Stewart did in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

Here's what else the Fix the Senate Now proposal would do:

  • Those objecting to legislation should only have one opportunity to filibuster legislation. Specifically, the ability to bring up a bill for simple debate (the motion to proceed) should not be subjected to a filibuster.
  • Those wishing to filibuster legislation must actually hold the floor and be required to actually debate the legislation. It would end "silent" filibusters where one Senator quietly objects and is not required to take the Senate floor.
  • Instead of the burden required to break a filibuster being on the majority to deliver 60 votes, those objecting to the legislation and wishing to filibuster must produce 41 votes to sustain a filibuster.
  • The process for approving nominations should be streamlined, including shortening the amount of time required for debate once a nomination is brought to the Senate floor.