The Last Filibuster?
Posted at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2012
Ezra Klein makes an impassioned case that now is the time to eliminate the filibuster and return to a functioning legislative branch.
“Today, the filibuster isn’t used to defend minority rights or ensure debate. Rather, the filibuster is simply a rule that the minority party uses to require a 60-vote supermajority to get anything done in the United States Senate. That’s not how it was meant to be… The problem with the filibuster isn’t that senators don’t have to stand and talk, or that they can filibuster the motion to debate as well as the vote itself. It’s that the Senate has become, with no discussion or debate, an effective 60-vote institution. If you don’t change that, you haven’t solved the problem.”
“Defenses of the filibuster tend to invoke minority rights or the Constitution’s preference for decentralized power. It’s true the Founding Fathers wanted to make legislating hard. That’s why they divided power between three branches… But the Founders didn’t want it to be this hard. They considered requiring a supermajority to pass legislation and rejected the idea… Instead of the branches competing against one another, as they envisioned, we now have two parties competing uniformly across all branches.”
“Ideally, a bipartisan majority of senators would end the filibuster — either immediately or with a delayed trigger six years after a deal is struck — so neither party would know which is poised to benefit. But doing away with the filibuster in the next Congress has some appeal, too. Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House; there will be no instant power grab leading to one-party dominance.”