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Sen. Dick Durbin
Sen. Dick Durbin
Quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Dick Durbin had one of his famous extremely earnest, look-into-the-camera moments:
Durbin said the Democrats want to mend the filibuster, not end it — to limit its use during little legislative steps along the way and to require filibustering senators to keep at least one representative on the chamber floor at all times in order to keep it going.

"They won't have to talk, but they will have to be there to hold the floor as long as we're in session," Durbin said. "It will make the filibuster more difficult and more visible to the American people. It will no longer be this casual thing, so it will have to be used responsibly."

At least one? I don't see how that is very much different from what we have today. I hope Durbin's office will confirm that he is supporting Sen. Merkley's reforms which are much more robust.

Essentially, what Durbin is describing means nothing. One senator merely sitting in the chamber on rotating shifts while doodling is not going to stop the kinds of obstruction that has made the body dysfunctional. Furthermore, no number of "honest to goodness I'm really trying" speeches from Durbin are going to convince the American people to turn against those obstructing the people's business. No senator. One guy sitting on the Senate floor checking his BlackBerry is NOT going to make filibusters more visible. The obstructing senators must be forced to talk and forced to hold the floor en masse. That is the only way to raise the political cost of obstruction.

Sen. Jeff Merkley's reforms call for an increasingly escalating number of senators to hold the floor during a filibuster, starting at five for the first 24 hours and increasing day after day. This a defensible change in the rules. While grassroots Democrats would welcome the total abolition of the filibuster and have the Senate operate like a normal political body, nobody is expecting this or proposing it. Sen. Merkley's reforms are reasonable and still protect the Senate's asinine traditions.

In Durbin's defense, he supports reform and believes the majority will have the votes to change the rules:

"It's going to be close, but I think we'll have the votes," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, in an interview Tuesday. "These new members are shaking their heads and asking, 'What's the point of serving in a body that grinds to a halt over nothing?' And I can't argue with them.
Meet me at camera three, senator:

The filibuster rules will be changed at some point, Senator Durbin. Just as sure as the sun rises, when the Republicans take charge they are not going to waste any time listening to any BS about Senate traditions. They won't mend it. They'll just get rid of it completely as they've already threatened to do once before.

Let's see some spine here.

Why are you in the Senate? To get things done for the American people, or preserve its useless customs? Because we'd rather see a good senator like you legislating and getting results rather than looking at us from the Senate floor complaining about failure. I say that earnestly. Honest to goodness.

Please sign the petition to make the filibuster a real filibuster.

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