Fix the Senate Now Applauds Ongoing Bipartisan Discussion on Senate Rules Reform

NYT Article Latest Evidence of Momentum Behind Reform; Fix the Senate Now Calls on Sen. Alexander to Engage All Senate Reform Champions Earlier in Proposed Reform Process


Washington, DC – The Fix the Senate Now coalition applauds the ongoing bipartisan discussion on U.S. Senate rules reform and the growing bipartisan consensus that the Senate can, and should, be made more functional.

A New York Times article by Carl Hulse is the latest evidence of momentum behind a bipartisan rules reform effort. The Times article highlights a plan from Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to “[u]se the next few months to develop, debate and approve proposals to make the Senate more efficient, but then agree not to institute the changes until 2017 — after next year’s election” and “[w]ith no certainty about which party will win the majority next November…” An earlier article by The Hill’s Alex Bolton quoted Sen. Alexander saying: “I argued at the time [in 2011 and 2013] that what we needed was a change of behavior more than a change of rules. But I’ve changed my mind about that. And I think the world around us has changed and that the Senate itself has changed and that we probably need a change in rules.”

In light of the renewed discussion around Senate changes, rules reform champion Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) recently said to Talking Points Memo that he was “pleased” that many others agree with “the need to modernize the Senate’s rules to restore the Senate’s ability to debate and deliberate.”

While the Times article is a positive indication about real momentum behind Senate reform, it does outline a less than ideal process – Sen. Alexander only plans on engaging longtime Senate reform champions Senators Merkley and Tom Udall (D-NM) after first presenting recommended Senate reforms to Senate Republicans. Due to Sen. Merkley and Udall’s leadership and specific thinking on the subject of Senate reforms, the Fix the Senate Now coalition hopes that their expertise and proposed reforms can be brought into the critical discussion about recommendations earlier than the scenario outlined in the article.

As a coalition, Fix the Senate Now supports reforms similar to those outlined in the 2013 Senate Resolution 4 package from Senators Merkley and Udall, as well as former Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) (summary available here). From eliminating the filibuster on the motion to proceed to reviving the notion of a “talking filibuster” to other ways of raising the costs of Senate obstruction, there are numerous reforms that could help the Senate move in a more functional direction and should be included in Senator Alexander’s proposed process from the earliest stages.


For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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