Friday, Oct 31, 2014
Editorials

It's time to send the Senate filibuster to the scrap heap


Published:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is proposing something that makes sense, and, of course, Republican senators are against it. In fact, it's the constant opposition to everything that makes Reid want to make the change, and we agree that it needs to be done. A majority vote should be all that's needed for federal appointees and filibusters should be stopped in all cases.

The minority party in the Senate can fillibuster to take time away so that a vote cannot be held. The only way the majority party can override a veto is to have 60 members vote to do so. The current split in the 100 member U.S. Senate is 54 Democrats with two Indendpendents who often lean their way. But that still leaves 44 Republican votes to support a filibuster. The House of Representatives does not allow fillibusters and the majority rules.

Reid and Democrats are tired of Republican senators blocking votes on federal appointees. Unlike the movies, it's rare for an actual marathon filibuster to happen, although Kentucky Sen. Paul Rand recently spoke for hours to block the appointment of the head of the CIA. The Senate still made the appointment, but Rand scored points for delaying it.

Democrats know that this could backfire on them if the GOP regains control of the Senate, but they're fine with that. Both sides have used the filibuster over the years and both sides hate it when their side is the majority and don't get their way.

We believe that the filibuster is a silly way for senators to do the work of the people. If a person or cause isn't strong enough for the majority, regardless of the party, to support it, then so be it. Important decisions shouldn't be postponed or shot down without a vote using such tactics.

When then Sen. Lyndon Johnson was Senate Majority Leader for six years, he faced one filibuster in all those years. Reid has faced 413 threatened filibusters in the same time period.

The filibuster is not mentioned in the Constitution and is a rule conjured for the Senate. To most reasonable people - no matter what party - it just doesn't make sense. It's time to give it the boot and let common sense prevail. Now if they would just do something about not allowing unrelated issues to be tacked on to other legislation ...

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