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:
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.
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.