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A screen capture of Jimmy Stewart's character holding a filibuster in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
The Huffington Post reports that in a whip count they've compiled through interviews and reporting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could have the 51 votes he needs to push filibuster reform next month, with the new Congress.
A number of senators who had been leery of going nuclear now are ready to press the button. "Democrats are considering three rules changes, and in the best of all worlds I wish we could just to do them on a bipartisan basis and come very close to what's being discussed," Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told HuffPost. "If we can't, then at the end of the day, the need for change is so dramatic that we should use this constitutional approach."
There's still strong Democratic opposition, namely Sens. Carl Levin and Mark Pryor, but the influx of new senators, Tammy Baldwin (WI), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Martin Heinrich (NM), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Mazie Hirono (HI), Tim Kaine (VA), Chris Murphy (CT) and Angus King (ME) leaves them in a distinct minority. They're potentially losing members, as well. Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Huffington Post that she's open to the proposals.

This comes with a massive new push from the "Fix the Senate" coalition, which Daily Kos is part of. The coalition has written to Senate leadership to offer support, and to encourage a package of reforms that will make the Senate function again. Those reforms are:

  • Eliminate the ability to filibuster the motion to proceed;
  • Require that those wishing to block legislation or nominations take the floor and actually filibuster— i.e., mandating “talking filibusters”;
  • Assert that 41 Senators must affirmatively vote to continue debate rather than forcing 60 Senators to vote to end debate; and,
  • Streamline the nomination process so that nominees will get a yes or no vote on the Senate floor, including a reduction of the required 30 hours of post cloture debate on a nominee to 2 hours.
The talking filibuster is a much-needed reform, but what would be even more effective is flipping the vote requirement: Instead of having to have 60 affirmative votes to go forward on legislation, the opposition would have to round up 41 senators to stand up and vote to obstruct it, to go on record as standing in the way of governing. That's an extremely common-sense reform that doesn't threaten the rights of the minority, but makes the minority responsible for its actions. In fact, it not only doesn't take away their rights, it gives them another opportunity to vote!

Tell your senator to vote to make the filibuster a real, talking filibuster that requires affirmative votes to continue.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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