This Is How A Filibuster Should Be Done

Dave Johnson

Yesterday we saw what a filibuster should be. Senator Rand Paul did it the right way by talking and talking, and he got his point across. Interestingly, what Senator Paul did is what the public thinks a filibuster already is. Except it isn’t.

In recent years Senate Republicans used the filibuster to block over 380 bills and nominations. There has been a terrible cost to the country from this ongoing obstruction. One part of this cost is that needed bills and nominees were blocked. The DREAM Act, The Bring Jobs Home Act, The American Jobs Act, and so many, many more badly-needed bills and nominees… Just as damaging has been people’s loss of faith in our government’s ability to act in our interest and solve problems we need solved.

This year there was an attempt to fix this problem and stop the obstruction, but this effort was obstructed. So government continues to disappoint. Already we have seen the nominations of a member of the cabinet and federal judge filibustered without the public seeing someone talk all night.

Yesterday Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) expressed interest in trying again,

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Durbin said the existing rules change agreement doesn’t seem to be working.

“I hate to suggest this, but if this is an indication of where we’re headed, we need to revisit the rules again,” he said. “We need to go back to them again. I’m sorry to say it because I was hopeful that a bipartisan approach to dealing with these issues would work. It is the best thing for this chamber, for the people serving here and for the history of this institution. But if this Caitlin Halligan [filibuster] is an indication of things to come, we’ve got to revisit the rules. If we are now going to filibuster based on such weak arguments, then I think we need to revisit the rules.”

Durbin is right. The current rules continue to enable obstruction. The country has problems that need solving, and the administration needs to get its nominees approved so the government can operate. Mostly, the public has to have some reason to think our form of government is able to work in the interest of We, the People.

The point of a filibuster is to allow a minority to delay action and gain time to rally support for their point of view. This is what Senator Paul did. He very publicly stopped the Senate from proceeding by taking the floor and talking. And he got a lot of press doing it, which rallied public support. This enabled supporters to make their case to the public. It is possible that his view may prevail as a result.

Senator Paul did it the right way. Senator Paul shows us how a filibuster should be done. Let’s fix the filibuster so this is the way it is done.

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