ICYMI: "U.S. Senate Rules Reform at One Year: A First Step, But a Long Road Ahead"

Washington, DC – Alliance for Justice (AFJ) President Nan Aron and Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen have a new opinion piece published at Huffington Post reflecting on Senate rules reform after one year.

Read “U.S. Senate Rules Reform at One Year: A First Step, But a Long Road Ahead,” which we excerpt below:

“Just over one year ago, the U.S. Senate adopted sensible reforms that helped restore some common sense to the upper chamber. Despite partisan hand-wringing and overheated rhetoric, here's what the changes amounted to: helping ensure that most judicial and executive branch nominees could receive a simple up-or-down vote on their merits. The Senate reforms moved our democracy one step closer to its functional traditions.

Throughout 2014, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his caucus have prioritized moving nominations forward and have successfully filled an array of vacancies. This includes many judicial and executive positions that would have been blocked before last November.

But more work needs to be done. Nearly 150 nominees are pending on the executive calendar. Still languishing on the floor are more than a dozen qualified judicial nominees and candidates to fill dozens more executive branch vacancies essential to the protection of health, safety, workers, the environment and democracy itself. That's why the Senate should prioritize moving nominees forward during its remaining weeks in session, while the chamber continues to pursue additional sensible reforms.”

…We also hope the Senate will continue to pursue reforms that bolster accountability and transparency, while cutting down on obstruction and time-wasting. This means continuing to allow up-or-down votes for most presidential nominees and supporting such reforms as "use it or lose it."

Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time-wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted time. Such a reform would help shift the burden of obstruction on those looking to block or slow the Senate's progress.

The Senate reforms enacted a year ago were a first step in the right direction. But there's a long road ahead to continue to improve the functioning of the Senate and, with it, the health of our democracy.”


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