Sanders Votes No on Weak Filibuster Reform
January 24, 2013
The Senate on Thursday night voted for a package of modest modifications to filibuster rules. Sen. Bernie Sanders said the changes did not go far enough. “This country faces major crises in terms of the economy and unemployment, the deficit, global warming, health care, campaign finance reform, education and a crumbling infrastructure – to name a few. In my view, none of these problems will be effectively addressed so long as one senator can demand 60 votes to pass legislation. The rule changes adopted today are a step forward in making the operations of the Senate more efficient and expeditious. They are not enough.”
“Most Americans grew up believing that in America the majority rules. That is not the case in the Senate,” Sanders added. “For many years now, especially since President Obama has been in office, it has taken 60 votes to pass any significant piece of legislation. When Lyndon Johnson was majority leader in the 1950s, he filed cloture to end a filibuster only once. Majority Leader Reid has filed cloture 390 times.
“The Senate is not the House and the minority party must be treated with respect and given the opportunity to offer amendments and make their case in opposition. A minority must not, however, be allowed to permanently obstruct the wishes of the majority. That is not democracy. That is a perversion of democracy.
“In my view, if a senator or a group of senators are strenuously opposed to legislation they have the right and duty to come to the floor and, for as long as they want, engage in a talking filibuster by explaining to the American people the reasons for their objection. They should not, however, continue to have the right to abuse arcane Senate rules to block a majority of senators from acting on behalf of the American people.”