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Friday, December 21, 2012

Foreign Affairs: Lauren C. Bell: Fixing the Filibuster: Congress Needs a Battle Place of Ideas not Obstructionism

Fixing the Filibuster: There is less consensus than many realize about the damage caused by increased use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Ambiguity over what constitutes a bona fide filibuster has allowed both Democrats and Republicans to demagogue the problem over time, usually in order to suit their short-term partisan interests. Don't hold your breath waiting for effective reform.

You would think in a Federal Government that has three branches and checks and balances including a Bi Cameral Congress. Where the upper chamber of Congress has an equal amount of members for each state meaning the US Senate. And in a government that has a two party system that Americans would have a choice and two competing visions. In who to vote for and who to support but thats not what we get, what we have instead is a House of Representatives. Where the majority party whether its the ruling or in the Republicans case the opposition party rules over the House. They set the agenda and the rules as far as how legislation gets debated and how it can be amended and what. Can be offered to amend the legislation and we have a Senate where the majority party meaning the Democrats. Wants to rule the Senate the way the House is ruled and the minority party because the Senate does have minority rights. Unlike the House when Democrats say take it or leave it, they respond by not only leaving the legislation but. Blocking it all together because you need a consensus to get anything done in the Senate which means the leaders. Of both parties have to work together to accomplish anything when the minority party is large like it is now.

Of course the Senate need to be reformed but Congress as a whole both the Senate and the House for it to ever. Function properly and for Congress to be able to confront the issues that faces the country and they aren't. In a very good position of doing that right now, both parties House and Senate are in the do it my way or. We are not going to do anything because both parties in Congress have the power to stop each other but they don't have the power. To pass anything out of Congress on their own which means both chambers in Congress need to be reformed. Where the majority parties both House and Senate control the agenda meaning these are the issues. That the House and Senate are going to deal with in this session and in this Congress but then have the responsibility. To draft legislation to deal with the issues that the majority leadership feels need to be dealt with in that session and Congress. And either markup and draft legislation on their own or work with the minority party but where the minority leadership. Would be able to not only offer but get votes on relevant amendments to all legislation but where they can offer. And get votes on their relevant alternative legislation as well.

The same thing should be going on in the Senate where the majority party there whoever is in charge sets. The agenda and gets to decide what issues are brought up but also has the responsibility to markup in committee. Legislation to deal with the issues that the majority leadership decides should come up and bring it to the floor. Once its passed out of committee but where the minority leadership has the ability to offer relevant amendments. And relevant substitutes to bills the majority leadership brings up when the majority and minority leaderships decide. Not to work together on issues and what the majority leadership would get in return for an open. Process to relevant amendments and substitutes is the minority party being able to obstruct less frequently. That only final votes on legislation could be blocked by the Leader or Minority Leader, which would replace the filibuster. With a motion to table that could only come at the end of the debate, when the majority or minority leadership. Decides the legislation is not worth passing.

The Senate needs to be reformed but so does the House, Congress as a whole needs to be reformed, we need. Less obstructionism in the Senate but the Senate and House also needs to be able to work its will and this doesn't. Mean forcing both parties to work together but having a system in the House and Senate where both parties. Would have input on issues and legislation that the majority party brings up meaning both parties would have. Skin in the game and incentive to offer ideas and new proposals when they see legislation they don't like.