Common Cause

For Immediate Release

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Dale Eisman, (202) 736-5788

Filibuster "Compromise" Actually a Capitulation, Common Cause Asserts

WASHINGTON - Today’s announced “compromise” on Senate filibuster reform is in fact a capitulation by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who now has missed two excellent opportunities to restore the Senate to its proper role as a working legislative body, Common Cause said.

“My friend Harry Reid, the senator from Searchlight, NV, has gone missing in the fight for filibuster reform,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The deal he and Sen. McConnell have struck allows individual senators to continue blocking debate and action by the entire body and to do so without explaining themselves to their colleagues or the American people. This is not the Senate of debate and deliberation our founders envisioned.

Edgar invited senators who remain committed to ending the 60-vote requirement for conducting most Senate business to join in Common Cause’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster rule. The case is before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington following a lower court judge’s ruling in December that Common Cause and other plaintiffs, including four members of the House of Representatives, lacked legal standing to sue.

“We’re convinced that in a trial on the merits, we can demonstrate that the filibuster is unconstitutional and was never contemplated by America’s founders,” Edgar said. “The Constitution requires a supermajority for Senate action in just a handful of circumstances, including ratification of treaties and convicting the President in an impeachment trial, but the filibuster has expanded that to cover virtually every piece of legislation and every judicial or executive branch nomination.”

Edgar praised and congratulated Sens. Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall, whose determined drive for changes to the filibuster rule brought the issue to prominence and pushed Reid and McConnell to act, as well as Sen. Tom Harkin, who for more than a decade has championed filibuster reform.

“These senators and others have given the reform effort their best shot but through no fault of their own have come up short,” he said. “It’s now clear that the Senate will not fix the filibuster and the President lacks authority to fix it. We must turn to the judicial branch to enforce the Constitution.”

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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.

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