Monday, January 24, 2011

Filibuster Reform, DOA

I was skeptical of the filibuster reforms actually passing.

Sadly, I proved to be right.

I'm happy enough to see some limited reforms in the Senate. To make confirmation easier for more average appointees seems like a no-brainer. Ending secret holds would be a very good thing. But in the end, I am very disappointed that we couldn't lower the 60 vote threshold down a little bit, at least to 57 if not 55. However, people don't like change and everyone has their little empire to protect. And that's not just Republicans:

Moreover, while liberal groups such as and some unions such as the Communications Workers of America are supporting the Udall effort, the liberal coalition is far from united on the issue. Some large members of the AFL-CIO have been noticeably silent, while some abortion rights groups have publicly declared their opposition to changing filibuster rules. That, some Democratic aides said, is because in the 1990s and in the early days of the George W. Bush White House - when Republicans controlled both ends of the Capitol - these groups relied on their Senate Democratic allies and the 60-vote threshold to protect key rights such as Davis-Bacon wages for federal works projects and the Roe v. Wade abortion decision. 

These are all valuable things to protect. But the Senate has become a non-functioning institution and that's a threat to the entire body politic.

Maybe in 2 years these reforms can be expanded upon. As for now, kudos for Tom Udall, Jeff Merkley, and Tom Harkin for championing the issue.

In related news, Wyoming's senators are particularly bad. That includes Mike Enzi:

As for conservatives, despite railing against the filibuster when Democrats held up some of President Bush’ most extreme judicial nominees, Republicans have defended the obstructionist tool tooth and nail as sacred. In a hyperbolic op-ed in Poltico today, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) warned that “[g]etting rid of the filibuster would end the Senate as we know it and as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other founders knew it.” But this historical claim has no basis in history — the first filibuster did not occur until 1841, years after both Jefferson and Madison had died. And the filibuster as we know it today did not emerge until the late 20th Century, and has has only been used to create a de-facto need for 60 votes to pass legislation in the past 10 years.

No one ever said intelligence was a prerequisite to be a senator.