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Sen. Merkley makes the case for filibuster reform.
On Thursday, the first day of the 113th Congress, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced resolutions to overhaul Senate filibuster rules. The Merkley/Udall/Harkin proposals would limit the filibuster to final passage of bills, ending the ability of the minority to prevent the Senate from even considering legislation. It would end the ability of the minority to block conference committees and, most importantly, it would require a real, old-fashioned talking filibuster, forcing the minority to hold the floor and work for their opposition.
Udall, Merkley and Harkin want to force senators who filibuster to actually speak on the floor. They argue it would greatly increase public accountability and require the minority to use time and energy to stall business.

“The filibuster, once used only on issues of personal principle, is now used regularly as an instrument of partisan politics,” Merkley said. “It hurts our ability to take on the big challenges we face as Americans. And we need to fix it. We must put an end to the secret, silent filibuster that is haunting the Senate.”

In a briefing with reporters Thursday, Merkley and Udall said that they believe they have the 51 votes for Harry Reid, should he decide to push the reforms with a simple majority vote. In terms of momentum for these reforms, that's critical as Reid talks to Mitch McConnell and other Democrats who are working on the weak McCain-Levin proposal.

With 51 votes for strong reform in his back pocket, he's in a much stronger negotiating position both with McConnell and the handful of very balky Democrats who are flirting with McCain-Levin, including Sens. David Pryor (AK), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Ben Cardin (MD), Carl Levin (MI), Max Baucus (MT), Chuck Schumer (NY), Jack Reed (RI) and Patrick Leahy (VT). They have the option of negotiating for real, substantial reforms that a majority of the Senate can agree upon, or seeing a simple majority of their colleagues set the rules.

Merkey, Udall, and Harkin now have two weeks to make their case. We can help them. Call Sen. Reid and tell him that that real filibuster reform has to happen at 202-224-3542.

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

There's more discussion going on ericlewis0's diary.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:42 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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