April 26, 2005
Nuking filibusters

When even the Los Angeles Times is chastising the Democratic Party, it is apparent that Harry Reid's minions are on shaky ground. The Times has an editorial today which essentially tells the Dems to back down and let the entire senate vote for confirmation of Bush's circuit court judicial nominees, ten of whom were filibustered in the last congress. Three of his nominees withdrew their names from consideration, but Bush has renominated the other seven, and two have gone through the judiciary committee. Reid and Bill Frist, the Republican leader, have been trading threats, with Frist threatening to eliminate the filibuster maneuver forever on judicial nominees (the "nuclear option"), and Reid threatening to shut down the government if that happens. (Reid might need to be reminded of the 1996 elections, in which the Republicans suffered after they tried the same thing.) I support ending the filibuster. I also support a number of other changes to filibusters, ones that will weaken it, and also return it to the unpleasant and rarely executed maneuver it was in the past.

Firstly, Make the filibustering senator actually speak. The current policy is far too nice. Since CSPAN always has a camera running, let the public see how incoherent some of their senators really are when they are deprived of a teleprompter and notes.

Next, I support sequentially reducing the number of votes required to end debate on a topic. This has been proposed several times, including a 1993 proposal by Tom Harkin of Iowa (in response to a Republican filibuster of one of Clinton's budgets).

Last, I propose that a vote to end the debate change to a majority of senators present, (rather than the full senate) which will ensure that the filibustering party keeps butts in seats, lest the other party outlast them and end the debate.

This last option is fairly radical; I don't recall seeing it suggested elsewhere. I've seen the other two proposed in several places. It's extremely unlikely that my "filibuster reform package" would ever be seriously considered by the Senate, but somebody has to make the proposal.

(Link courtesy of QandO Blog.)

posted on April 26, 2005 10:40 AM


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