Filibuster Reform Is a Bad Idea

The Washington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) has pledged to reform the filibuster—if and only if he retains his position as Majority Leader in the next Congress and President Obama wins a second term.

This shows that Reid has no ideological commitment to “filibuster reform”; he merely has a commitment to expand his powers in the next Congress. It is a safe bet that Reid and his fellow liberals will abandon and fight “filibuster reform” if Republicans take over the Senate and/or Mitt Romney is elected president.

The “filibuster reform” of choice for the left is Senator Tom Udall’s (D–NM) S. Res. 10. Udall’s heart is in the right place. He is still in his first term and is witnessing a Senate in dysfunction. The problem is that his solution will not magically change the Senate into a functioning body and may do more harm than good.

The Udall rules change would remove the opportunity for Senators to filibuster a motion to proceed to a bill. This has been a tool of the minority party to force an open debate on legislation. Reid has abused his authority as majority leader to block the minority party from the opportunity to offer amendments over 60 times, more times than all of his predecessors combined. Many times, the minority party has filibustered motions to proceed to bills for the purposes of securing an agreement to be allowed amendments on a bill. It is one tool for Members to make sure they are allowed to fully participate in the debate and amendment process.



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