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Fix the Senate Now

Vice Presidents have a unique role in relation to the Senate. As the president of the Senate, the Vice President holds the tie-breaking vote.

So, ahead of Thursday’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Senate rules reform is a particularly relevant issue. The process for rules reform in the next Congress will be hotly debated, and the Vice President’s vote may be critical.

Fix the Senate Now

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is another lawmaker who believes the rules in the United States Senate are preventing good legislation from being passed.

Cantwell believes today’s version of filibustering is too easy to do and helps to contribute to partisan gridlock.

Fix the Senate Now

Changing the Senate rules to reduce partisan gridlock is a hot-button issue inside the Beltway and on the campaign trail.

As the rules currently stand, only a supermajority of 60 Senate members can overcome opposition to pass legislation and confirm judicial appointments.

Fix the Senate Now

Seventeen long-standing nominees for federal court saw their appointments railroaded last Thursday, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a request to vote on the judges.

Fix the Senate Now

Last Wednesday, the broken rules and procedural obstructionism that have plagued the U.S. Senate for years claimed their latest victim: The Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012.

Fix the Senate Now

This week, the topic of Senate rules reform has re-emerged in a major way. Prompted by the recent filibusters of the DISCLOSE Act and the Bring Jobs Home Act and elevated by the comments and commitments of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) about the need for reform, the renewed focus on Senate obstruction and potential reforms is timely and important. Among the key developments:

Fix the Senate Now

Check out this list to see just how the Senate rules block a majority of senators from taking up important measures and getting the people’s business done.

Unanimous consent. All 100 senators must agree that the business of the Senate will go forward. One senator can stop bills, nominations, appointments, even ordinary actions like naming a post office.

Preventing discussion of a bill. There are four ways a single senator can hold up discussion of a bill.

Fix the Senate Now

Senate rules, and especially the rules about filibuster and debate, have changed a lot over our nation’s history.

1789 The original rules of the Senate included a provision that would allow debate to be cut off by a simple majority vote. And from 1789-1806, this provision was only used four times in the U.S. Senate.