For Immediate Release
Mary Boyle, (202) 736-577
For Now, It Appears Senate Returning to Dysfunction-as-Usual
WASHINGTON - One month after 53 Democratic senators signed a letter announcing they
would try to breathe some life into the principle of majority rule in
that chamber, it now sadly appears that little reform will actually
Barring some last-minute resolve, the Senate is expected to return to
dysfunctional business-as-usual. In other words, the Republican minority
can continue abusing the filibuster to block Democratic initiatives and
the Democratic leadership can continue to choke off GOP amendments to
what little legislation actually reaches the floor.
Three bright spots in this debate have been Sens. Tom Harkin, Jeff
Merkley and Tom Udall, who've made a sustained, energetic effort to get
the Senate to do the work Americans elected it to do. They at least have
secured a new rule that apparently will keep senators from using secret
"holds" to keep legislation off the floor. We hope they'll continue
their crusade for bigger reforms, including an end to the filibuster.
This fight needs to go on, and Common Cause is committed to advocating
for the serious reform needed to fix the Senate.
A dark spot, we must note, has been Sen. Lamar Alexander, who on Tuesday
used the filibuster rule to block a floor debate on Merkley's plan to
change the filibuster rule. We can only conclude that the case for
leaving the rule unchanged is so weak that Alexander and his brethren
were embarrassed to be seen trying to articulate it.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.