22 February 2010

To Sen. Reid: Use Ruling from the Chair to End the Filibuster

Dear Senator Reid:

These are EXTRAORDINARY times. The American people elected Barack Obama and a historic Democratic majority in the Senate and House in 2008. Right now, a lot of people are frustrated with the inaction of Congress, particularly on health care reform, but also on financial re-regulation, and a number of other issues. People who are dissatisfied with government's actions, irrationally or otherwise, tend to vote out the incumbent party. So, the whole agenda that was the basis of the 2008 election is in TERRIBLE JEOPARDY right now. I don't need to tell you this.

WHAT GIVES? The Party of No. Or, rather, they don't give. They are unified in obstructing everything that is brought before them, and the archaic and undemocratic Senate rules are giving this MINORITY party untoward and unjustified power to block the will of the people.

The time has come to break with hidebound tradition, as the Republicans have done. They have abandoned comity, respect for the results of elections, and just common decency. What should the Democratic party leadership in the Senate --YOU -- do in response?

I say, abandon the conciliatory traditions which prevent using every means available to restore Majority Rule.

I am referring to the possible use of a Ruling from the Chair, coupled with some perfectly legitimate parliamentary procedures, to change the rules to eliminate once and for all the supermajority required to cut off debate. This procedure is described in some detail here

Let's face it, Sen. Reid. A constitutional amendment or legislation (such as Sen. Harkin's proposal), to change the rules (requiring 2/3 vote) simply isn't going to pass. This is the ONLY way to get this done. It will require heroic leadership, but what other reason is there for YOU and your colleagues to be in the Senate? This is your mandate. This is what the people elected you to do: stand up for them. Most people don't think about parliamentary procedure and Senate rules much, but there is polling to show that most people think the filibuster is unfair, and should be abandoned. Right now, it is literally crippling the effective functioning of our small-r republican form of government. With republican government hogtied, we get Republican government (big-R), even though we elected a majority of Democrats. This just cannot go on. It's time for the filibuster to be scrapped, once and for all, BY ANY MEANS available!

We have a historic opportunity and mandate here, and we need to be able to pass legislation to fulfill it! I firmly believe that if real health care reform, real financial re-regulation, real jobs programs, and real action on moving forward with a new renewable energy infrastructure and action on climate change were to pass the Congress, the majority of Americans would cheer from the rooftops and reelect their Democratic Congressmen and women and Senators by large majorities.

But the unacceptable, undemocratic, and unfair power of the Party of No to block legislation must first be broken, and THIS is the way to do it.

Thank you.

David Studhalter

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