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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/4/11

Tomorrow is D-Day in the Senate

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Message Dave Lefcourt
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Tomorrow will be a momentous day in the Senate or not. It marks the opening session of the new Congress whereby all rules changes governing how the Senate operates, including the filibuster, can be amended by a simple majority vote.

The operative words are "can be".

All incoming Democratic senators have signed on to a proposal calling for amending the filibuster rule and other rules i.e. "secret holds" (whereby any one senator can secretly stop any measure in its tracks) that are roadblocks (or better rabbit holes) where legislative proposals go to die.

The current use of (or better the threat of) the filibuster, particularly by the Republicans, has meant tyranny by the minority to kill any measure before it can come up for a vote, even whether something can be brought up for discussion.

The Republicans in the last session used the filibuster to absurd infinitum. As said previously now all it takes is the "threat" of a filibuster.

Traditionally, senators opposed to a measure would be required to be at the Senate podium and talk indefinitely (an actual "filibuster") as a way of expressing their opposition. It was done by Southern senators in the 1960's in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1965 that if enacted would end "legal" segregation in the South. But after several days using the "filibuster" even those die hard segregationists relented and the legislation was able to be brought up for a vote and passed. Today such landmark legislation is hard to imagine being forwarded much less passed under current Senate rules.

Minority rights should not be trampled upon. That idea has been a primary reason for the filibuster rule to remain in place. However when that minority can effectively prevent all measures it opposes from being considered, this is a perversion of minority rights that becomes the tyranny of a minority over the majority.

The filibuster rule was last amended in 1975 when a simple majority on the first day of that new Senate   voted to reduce the number of senators it would take (from 66 to 60) to end debate.

It is long past time for updated reform. Majority rule must again be restored in the Senate with all due respect for and consideration for the minority to voice their opposition; but not their stranglehold which they currently exert.

This basic reform needs to happen tomorrow. We will be watching.                

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