Washington, DC – A range of outside observers are calling for substantial U.S. Senate rules reform to cut down on unprecedented obstruction and to again allow the chamber to function as a deliberative body. From the re-launch of the Fix the Senate Now coalition to support from some of the nation’s leading editorial pages and political columnists, the effort to reform Senate rules is gathering steam and support. Recent supportive commentary from outside observers includes the following:
Washington, DC – With U.S. Senate rules and filibuster reform back in the news, much of the coverage has focused on how the reform process is likely to unfold. However, as the Fix the Senate Now coalition notes today, the renewed focus on “how” the Senate achieves reform should not distract from “why” the chamber should pursue reform in the first place.
Senate rules reform was a hot button topic in the press and around the nation this week. President Obama declared his support and the Fix the Senate coalition officially launched on Wednesday. Here’s a glimpse of the key stories from the week:
The “Constitutional Option”
Washington, DC – With the topic of U.S. Senate rules reform back in the news, the Alliance for Justice, the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Sierra Club, and the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) today announced the re-formulation of the Fix the Senate Now coalition to support the push for substantive Senate reforms.
More newspapers joined the call for Senate rules reform this week. Here’s what they had to say:
“In the past, filibusters were relatively rare. They were used to defend minority rights and ensure legislation got a full debate. Today, the minority party – whichever party happens to be the minority at the moment – uses the filibuster routinely to require 60 votes to get nearly anything done. In other words, the minority uses it to make the majority fail. How are voters to judge the majority party, when its progress is largely stymied by a filibustering minority?”
Here’s a scary thought: At a time when American leadership is a fundamental necessity at home and abroad, can you imagine the United States without a Secretary of Defense or a Secretary of State?
Rumors are swirling that United Nations Ambassador Dr. Susan Rice might be in line to take over for the retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Also, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, could be tapped to take over the retiring Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
As newly elected Senators arrive at the Capitol for orientation this week one thing’s for sure, the prospect of Senate rules reform is now closer than ever.
A recent New York Times editorial put things into perspective.
It’s going to be a new day in the Senate.
Seven Democratic senators elect — Tammy Baldwin (WI), Martin Heinrich (NM), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Mazie Hirono (HI), Tim Kaine (VA), Chris Murphy (CT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) — have all committed to “fix the broken Senate by reforming the filibuster.”
“I’m about as liberal and lefty as they come,” admits Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla in a recent Under the Radar interview. “But this is something that I absolutely support, regardless of who is in power.”
Walla was speaking about reforms to the rules in the United States Senate that would help end the obstruction that has occurred in the past few years.