Dysfunctional Senate a little less dysfunctional

After hundreds of thousands of calls and a million signatures on petitions, the U.S. Senate failed yesterday to agree on significant changes to its filibuster rules.  A super majority of 60 votes will still be needed to pass legislation and the minority will still control much of the Senate’s process.

There will be no “talking filibuster” that would force Senators who want to thwart a majority from voting on a bill to actually hold the floor and debate.  Those who want to delay votes don’t have to produce 40 Senators to do so but the majority still has to come up with 60 votes to end a debate.

But the Senate did agree to some procedural changes that should help.Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “It’s some change in a Senate committed to no change. So that’s important.”

As reported in The Hill:

“The agreement that’s been struck is a combination of rules and behavioral changes, and not as strong what many of us have been advocating,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) a leading proponent of the talking filibuster. “However, it alters the way we deal with nominations, conference committees and motions to proceed — all things I’ve been working toward.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Udall’s partner in calling for bold reform, said: “I’m
disappointed that we didn’t take a bolder step to fix the Senate, but what is most
important today is the deep determination of Senators to return the Senate to a more functional institution.

“If the modest steps taken today do not end the paralysis the Senate currently suffers, many Senators are determined to revisit this debate and explore stronger remedies,” he added.

In 2015 the Senate can again revisit its rules.  We’ll find out very soon if it will be two more years of dysfunctionality.

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