Washington, DC – The Fix the Senate Now coalition applauds the renewed bipartisan discussion on U.S. Senate rules reform and the emerging bipartisan consensus that the Senate can, and should, be made more functional.
A recent article in The Hill by Alex Bolton highlights that Senate Republicans are “opening the door” to reforming the filibuster, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set to appoint a task force to examine potential Senate reforms. The article highlights how Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a past opponent of Senate rules reform, has started to shift his thinking. The story quotes Sen. Alexander saying:
“We’re going to take a serious look at whether Senate rules ought to be changed in order to make the Senate work more effectively” … “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) said to Talking Points Memo that he was “pleased” that:
“Senate leadership is taking seriously the need to modernize the Senate’s rules to restore the Senate's ability to debate and deliberate … As I said on the floor recently, with the control of the Presidency and the Senate after 2016 up in the air, now is the perfect time to talk about what rules will make the Senate work better for both the majority and the minority. I look forward to continuing that dialogue.”
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, numerous reforms could help the Senate move in a more functional direction. As a coalition, Fix the Senate Now supports reforms similar to those outlined in the 2013 Senate Resolution 4 package from Senators Merkley, Udall, and Harkin (summary available here).
While the specifics of the reform ideas – and when they should be implemented – are critical questions that will be determined, the renewed bipartisan focus on the topic is a positive development.
For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at firstname.lastname@example.org