Thursday, November 15, 2012

Support filibuster reform in the Senate

Photo by Richard Clement for Reuters

We saw Elizabeth Warren coming more than two years ago, when she, with the crucial help of Barney Frank, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is now up and running. Republicans hated the very idea of that agency and threatened a filibuster if President Obama appointed Warren to lead the new agency.

Senator-elect Warren is now supporting reforming the Senate's filibuster rules when the new Congress convenes in January:

Any senator can[now] make a phone call, say they object to a bill, then head out for the night. In the meantime, business comes to a screeching halt.

Senate Republicans have used this type of filibuster 380 times since the Democrats took over the majority in 2006. We've seen filibusters to block judicial nominations, jobs bills, political transparency, ending Big Oil subsidies---you name it, there's been a filibuster.

We've seen filibusters of bills and nominations that ultimately passed with 90 or more votes. Why filibuster something that has that kind of support? Just to slow down the process and keep the Senate from working.

I saw the impact of these filibusters at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Forty-five senators pledged to filibuster any nominee to head that new consumer agency, regardless of that person's qualifications. After I left the agency, they tried to hold Richard Cordray's nomination vote hostage until the Senate agreed to weaken the agency to the point where it could no longer hold the big banks and credit card companies accountable.

That's not open debate---that's paralyzing progress.

I learned something important in my race against Senator Brown: voters want political leaders who are willing to break the partisan gridlock. They want fewer closed-door roadblocks and more public votes on legislation that could improve their lives.

On the first day of the new session in January, the senators will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a majority vote, rather than the normal two-thirds vote. The change can be modest: If someone objects to a bill or a nomination in the United States Senate, they should have to stand on the floor of the chamber and defend their opposition.

Rob's comment:

You can sign a Daily Kos petition in support of that reform.

Our Senator Feinstein does not support reforming the filibuster rules. You can tell her with an email message that she should change her position and support Warren and her other colleagues that think filibuster reform is necessary.

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