Filibuster Reform?

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schmiggen
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Filibuster Reform?

Postby schmiggen » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:13 am UTC

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/republicans_dare_democrats_to.html
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/one_senators_modest_proposal_f.html

Senator Jeff Merkley wrote: The public believes that filibustering senators have to hold the floor. Indeed, the public perceives the filibuster as an act of principled public courage and sacrifice. Let's make it so.

Require a specific number of Senators -- I suggest five for the first 24 hours, 10 for the second 24 hours, and 20 thereafter -- to be on the floor to sustain the filibuster. This would be required even during quorum calls. At any point, a member could call for a count of the senators on the floor who stand in opposition to the regular order, and if the count falls below the required level, the regular order prevails and a majority vote is held.


I really like the idea of making people who want to filibuster actually be present and making arguments for the filibuster. I know there are reasons that filibustering can be good to have as an option, but it's nonsensical to me that just one senator can waste so much time without even having to stay there or make his case.

I'm not sure how the whole deal of debating and changing the Senate's rules will go or what else would change, though, so I'm not sure what to think about what could actually happen.

What do you guys think?
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:17 am UTC

This sounds decently thought out; I do have one concern though

Once a filibuster has started, Merkley would like to see it resemble the public conception of the practice. So rather than a private communication between members of the two parties’ leadership teams, it would actually be a floor debate -- and a crowded one. The first 24 hours would need five filibustering senators to be present, the second 24 hours would require 10, and after that, the filibuster would require 20 members of the minority on the floor continuously. Meanwhile, there would have to be an ongoing debate: "If a speaker concludes (arguing either side) and there is no senator who wishes to speak, the regular order is immediately restored, debate is concluded and a
simple majority vote is held according to further details established in the rules. ... Americans who tune in to observe the filibuster would not see a quorum call, but would see a debate in process."


That needs a grace period(10 mins would be enough); a filibuster should be able to continue if a weird 5 guys are going to the bathroom at once situation occurs.

I definitely agree that a filibuster should in fact require you to be talking continuously though.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Tirian » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:44 am UTC

I think that the Senate should take up a number of reforms to end the abuse of clearly dilatory parliamentary procedures. I'm talking not just about the filibuster here, but the idiotic practice of one Senator being able to put an indefinite hold on any piece of legislation (evidently without even identifying who has issued the hold), the silly practice of requiring that a bill be read in full even if that takes days and nobody is listening to it in good faith, and I don't even know what else.

I agree that it should take a super-majority to call the question when the participants are debating in good faith. But using a lack of cloture to thwart the will of the majority is contrary to the basic notion of a republic and it should never have been permitted to become a part of the Senate's legacy. I think that a permanent ban on the practice should be put up for a public vote at the beginning of every new session and that switching your vote when your party enters or leaves the majority should be called out as exactly the sort of craven political cowardice that it is.

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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:49 am UTC

Tirian wrote:the silly practice of requiring that a bill be read in full even if that takes days and nobody is listening to it in good faith, and I don't even know what else.


Actually, I like that rule. The simpler a bill is, the better.

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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Sharlos » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:43 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Tirian wrote:the silly practice of requiring that a bill be read in full even if that takes days and nobody is listening to it in good faith, and I don't even know what else.


Actually, I like that rule. The simpler a bill is, the better.

Not necessarily, simple bills aren't going to be able to solve complex problems. Simple bills easily open the way for misinterpretation, loopholes and other problems. Simple doesn't always mean better.

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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby dedalus » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:16 am UTC

Sharlos wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:
Tirian wrote:the silly practice of requiring that a bill be read in full even if that takes days and nobody is listening to it in good faith, and I don't even know what else.


Actually, I like that rule. The simpler a bill is, the better.

Not necessarily, simple bills aren't going to be able to solve complex problems. Simple bills easily open the way for misinterpretation, loopholes and other problems. Simple doesn't always mean better.

Otherwise, the constitution would just read 'don't be a dick', and we could all go to lunch :)
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Nordic Einar » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:16 am UTC

I can't even begin to explain to you how much I support this idea - and I say that as someone who's party will likely be a minority very soon. A filibuster grinds the senate to a halt for a week, requires only a single Senator to do so, and he doesn't even have to stay in D.C during the halt of senatorial proceedings.

It's ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous.

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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:23 pm UTC

I'd love to see this happen, but like most things that would improve Congress, unlikely.

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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Jessica » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:01 pm UTC

It would be an awesome reform.

I bet the republicans will filibuster it though. Just because they have done it for everything else.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby dedalus » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:It would be an awesome reform.

I bet the republicans will filibuster it though. Just because they have done it for everything else.

That would be ironic.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby schmiggen » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:04 am UTC

Jessica wrote:It would be an awesome reform.

I bet the republicans will filibuster it though. Just because they have done it for everything else.


Possible good news on that front:

Greg Sargent wrote:Senator Tom Udall, for instance, has argued that each Congress has the right to change its rules under a simple majority vote...


And apparently this has been done in the past!?

So maybe it can't be filibustered.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Triangle_Man » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:51 am UTC

With the corruption, selfishness and "the only thing I have to do in this job is WIN" attitude that seems to have marred American politics at this point, I'm starting to think that somebody should just kick everyone in the American political system out and just start over again.

I'm probably losing it.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby frezik » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:07 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:That needs a grace period(10 mins would be enough); a filibuster should be able to continue if a weird 5 guys are going to the bathroom at once situation occurs.


Nah, that just means they weren't hardcore enough. When Strom Thurmond filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957, he took a steam bath to dehydrate himself, so he wouldn't have to use the bathroom for 24 hours. That guy really didn't want the darkies to vote. In those days, people defended their bigotry like real men.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:14 am UTC

frezik wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:That needs a grace period(10 mins would be enough); a filibuster should be able to continue if a weird 5 guys are going to the bathroom at once situation occurs.


Nah, that just means they weren't hardcore enough. When Strom Thurmond filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957, he took a steam bath to dehydrate himself, so he wouldn't have to use the bathroom for 24 hours. That guy really didn't want the darkies to vote. In those days, people defended their bigotry like real men.


Is that supposed to inspire fear or awe?
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Triangle_Man » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:26 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
frezik wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:That needs a grace period(10 mins would be enough); a filibuster should be able to continue if a weird 5 guys are going to the bathroom at once situation occurs.


Nah, that just means they weren't hardcore enough. When Strom Thurmond filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957, he took a steam bath to dehydrate himself, so he wouldn't have to use the bathroom for 24 hours. That guy really didn't want the darkies to vote. In those days, people defended their bigotry like real men.


Is that supposed to inspire fear or awe?


It should likely inspire both at the same time, with a little bit of disgust thrown in for good measure.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:29 am UTC

Spoiler:
Triangle_Man wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:
frezik wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:That needs a grace period(10 mins would be enough); a filibuster should be able to continue if a weird 5 guys are going to the bathroom at once situation occurs.


Nah, that just means they weren't hardcore enough. When Strom Thurmond filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957, he took a steam bath to dehydrate himself, so he wouldn't have to use the bathroom for 24 hours. That guy really didn't want the darkies to vote. In those days, people defended their bigotry like real men.


Is that supposed to inspire fear or awe?


It should likely inspire both at the same time, with a little bit of disgust thrown in for good measure.


Its a shame, if that had been like a filibuster to stop some pro slavery bill(way back when) it would be the greatest thing in senate history.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Duban » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:43 am UTC

Amusing idea. I say we wait until the republicans are out of congress before implementing it though. Hopefully we can convince them to be more receptive to the idea by then :twisted:.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:54 am UTC

Nordic Einar wrote:I can't even begin to explain to you how much I support this idea - and I say that as someone who's party will likely be a minority very soon. A filibuster grinds the senate to a halt for a week, requires only a single Senator to do so, and he doesn't even have to stay in D.C during the halt of senatorial proceedings.

It's ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous.

Umm, [citation needed]. To my knowledge, filibusters these days rarely involve actually holding the floor, since the other side has better things to do.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:56 am UTC

Duban wrote:Amusing idea. I say we wait until the republicans are out of congress before implementing it though. Hopefully we can convince them to be more receptive to the idea by then :twisted:.


Um, its easier to convince someone to do this if they are currently the majority party.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:02 am UTC

dedalus wrote:
Sharlos wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:
Tirian wrote:the silly practice of requiring that a bill be read in full even if that takes days and nobody is listening to it in good faith, and I don't even know what else.


Actually, I like that rule. The simpler a bill is, the better.

Not necessarily, simple bills aren't going to be able to solve complex problems. Simple bills easily open the way for misinterpretation, loopholes and other problems. Simple doesn't always mean better.

Otherwise, the constitution would just read 'don't be a dick', and we could all go to lunch :)


Well, the US does have the world's shortest constitution, even including the amendments.

Larger bills are usually larger because of all the loopholes that are added or closed, breaks given to whichever organization bribed lobbied the most effectively, causing there to exist entire industries based on finding and exploiting those loopholes. For example, this or ahmagad how do they get away with this?!*

I believe in some incarnation of Occums razor for laws; the easier you can make your laws to understand and enforce, the better. For example, rather than have different rules for estate (inheritance/death) and gift taxes, just classify them as the same thing, where the inheritors are "gifted" the estate.

*
Spoiler:
Basically, California isn't the only place in the world that has beaches and warm weather. The State of California and the Federal Gov can either accept taxes collected from increased local business and salaries, or they could enforce business income tax and everything will be filmed overseas.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Triangle_Man » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:12 am UTC

Almost everybody hates taxes; however, some people/groups are better able to dodge them then others.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby netcrusher88 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:17 am UTC

Senator Jeff Merkley wrote:Require a specific number of Senators -- I suggest five for the first 24 hours, 10 for the second 24 hours, and 20 thereafter -- to be on the floor to sustain the filibuster. This would be required even during quorum calls.

Maybe I've just seen too much Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The West Wing, but I respectfully disagree. I think there is value in allowing an individual to hold up legislation, but for a very limited time. One Senator for a certain period of time - somewhere between 6-18 hours, time they have to convince some others of their position - then require 5, 10, 20 over 24 hour intervals.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby jesseewiak » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:02 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Nordic Einar wrote:I can't even begin to explain to you how much I support this idea - and I say that as someone who's party will likely be a minority very soon. A filibuster grinds the senate to a halt for a week, requires only a single Senator to do so, and he doesn't even have to stay in D.C during the halt of senatorial proceedings.

It's ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous.

Umm, [citation needed]. To my knowledge, filibusters these days rarely involve actually holding the floor, since the other side has better things to do.


Because it's not a real filibuster. It's simply making bills that everyone knows will pass (ya know, the Puppies Are Awesome type bills) take as long as possible through procedural tricks (forcing the entire bill to be read, rejecting to UC calls for moving to a cloture vote so a cloture vote has to be schedule for a couple of days, etc, etc.).

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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Darryl » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:24 pm UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:
Senator Jeff Merkley wrote:Require a specific number of Senators -- I suggest five for the first 24 hours, 10 for the second 24 hours, and 20 thereafter -- to be on the floor to sustain the filibuster. This would be required even during quorum calls.

Maybe I've just seen too much Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The West Wing, but I respectfully disagree. I think there is value in allowing an individual to hold up legislation, but for a very limited time. One Senator for a certain period of time - somewhere between 6-18 hours, time they have to convince some others of their position - then require 5, 10, 20 over 24 hour intervals.

Except that's not how a filibuster works anymore.

Currently, a filibuster is a simple procedural vote for cloture that doesn't reach 60 members.

You're thinking of the old way before they altered the Senate rules for filibustering, where it required you to speak and hold the floor, and it took 60 votes to shut you up.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:55 pm UTC

Yes I am, and Senator Merkley is suggesting a return to the old style plus requiring actual support to sustain rather than just one person doing it. I think it's reasonable (as long as we're going back to the old style) to allow one person to maintain a filibuster for a limited time, during which the theory is they might garner some support.
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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby Malice » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:03 am UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:Yes I am, and Senator Merkley is suggesting a return to the old style plus requiring actual support to sustain rather than just one person doing it. I think it's reasonable (as long as we're going back to the old style) to allow one person to maintain a filibuster for a limited time, during which the theory is they might garner some support.


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Re: Filibuster Reform?

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:24 pm UTC

Darryl wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:
Senator Jeff Merkley wrote:Require a specific number of Senators -- I suggest five for the first 24 hours, 10 for the second 24 hours, and 20 thereafter -- to be on the floor to sustain the filibuster. This would be required even during quorum calls.

Maybe I've just seen too much Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The West Wing, but I respectfully disagree. I think there is value in allowing an individual to hold up legislation, but for a very limited time. One Senator for a certain period of time - somewhere between 6-18 hours, time they have to convince some others of their position - then require 5, 10, 20 over 24 hour intervals.

Except that's not how a filibuster works anymore.

Currently, a filibuster is a simple procedural vote for cloture that doesn't reach 60 members.

You're thinking of the old way before they altered the Senate rules for filibustering, where it required you to speak and hold the floor, and it took 60 votes to shut you up.

Going back to the old system would be good. Yes, a filibuster can be annoying, but it's an important procedural option that gives the minority an edge it would otherwise lose. However, it ought to cost SOMETHING. The old way was much more exciting.


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