Debating the Filibuster

Obstructionists unite!  Is the Senate filibuster, which includes long speeches as well as other tactics a good idea? (George Will and minorities are a fan.)  Not so, according to outgoing Senator Olympia Snowe, who asserts in Ezra Klein on WaPo:

 “The problem is we’re not going through regular order in the U.S. Senate,” Snowe said. The problems start from the very earliest stages of a bill, she explained, with party leadership often bypassing the traditional committee process. But the bigger problem was the abuse of the filibuster: The minority side’s use of the filibuster has “increased exponentially, especially compared to the last three Congresses,” Snowe lamented.

The Diane Rehm show focused on the issue as well, today, in an engaging discussion of the issues of parliamentary procedure writ large in the U.S. Senate–including issues of supermajorities, amendment strategies, and the issue of “gridlock”–especially as contrasted with the House rules.

 Just 17 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to a new Gallup poll. Many are surprised the rating is that high given the gridlock, dysfunction and general inability of Congress to get anything done. And many believe one of the causes is the increasing use of the filibuster. Immortalized by Jimmy Stewart in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” this legislative tactic allows a single senator to endlessly delay or kill a bill that is supported by the majority. Some believe this is an important power afforded to senators and it allows thorough debate on legislation. Others argue it impedes effective government.

Guests: Michael Quinn President and CEO, American Revolution Center; Richard Arenberg Co-author of “Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate”; Senator Jeff Merkley ,Democratic Senator from Oregon; Ross Baker Professor of political science, Rutgers University

via Debate Over The Senate’s Use Of The Filibuster | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR.


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