Fix the Filibuster

Made famous by the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and infamous by senators who used it to block civil rights legislation, the filibuster was initially conceived as a way to prevent a Senate majority from steamrolling the minority. As long as a senator kept talking on the floor,-No eating, No Drinking, No Bathroom Breaks, No Sitting, No leaning… Just Standing and Talking for as long as they could- a bill could not move forward unless a supermajority of senators voted to end debate. For much of the 20th century, the Senate required a two-thirds (66) majority vote (a device known as cloture) to break a filibuster. In 1975, the Senate reduced the number of votes required for cloture to three-fifths, or 60 of the current hundred senators.

The filibuster has been used for good and for bad reasons during the Senate’s history.  But it was rare, and it required members to stand up for hours on end to make their case. Neither is true anymore.

In the first 50 years of the filibuster, it was used only 35 times  In the Last 20 years, over 1,000 times. And senators don’t even have to show up on the floor to explain themselves – just signaling their intent to filibuster effectively stalls legislation.

This is completely contrary to the intent of our Founders. They believed a supermajority should be required only in select circumstances including the passage of treaties, veto overrides, constitutional amendments and motions of impeachment (both Presidential and Congressional).  Which is why they wrote those specific items into the Constitution as requiring a level of two-thirds vote for passage of those items in lieu of a simple majority.

The way to fix it is easy.

Require a real filibuster again.  Make those Senators earn it.  There are a few current sitting members of the Senate that have done it.  They will tell you how difficult it is, Ask Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz what it is like to stand and speak for hours on end with no break.  Ted Cruz did it for 21 hours and 19 minutes straight!

No matter who you are you have to agree that standing up and talking with out breaks for a long period of time is not easy.  Do this: Grab a book, any book that you think will take at least 2 hours to read.  Set a stopwatch, stand up, and start reading aloud.  As soon as you lean on something, sit down, take a drink of water (or anything else), have to go to the bathroom, or just feel like you can’t go on anymore; stop the timer.    If, by some chance, you get all the way through that book you grabbed, start reading it over again.

Only a few people ever make it past 1 hour.

The current filibuster is basically cheating, and both of the major parties are guilty of doing it and then blaming the other side for their need to do it.  We can fix the filibuster by requiring it to be what the filibuster was designed to be.  One Senator, speaking in opposition to proposed legislation, until they either drop or give up.


Fix the Filibuster

TO: THE PRESIDENT, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, et al.:

I call upon the Senate to alter the Senate Rules to fix the filibuster as outlined on the Game Changer PAC website! Remove the ability for a group of Senators to just say that they are filibustering, and require a true filibuster: One Senator, speaking in opposition to proposed legislation, until they either drop or give up.

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