Senator Merkley has a plan.
On January 5, 2011, Senator Merkley and like-minded Senators will make a motion to alter the rules of filibuster.
Under these rules if you want to filibuster a bill, you cannot merely threaten to filibuster; you must do the work and stand on the floor of the Senate and talk for hours. When you stop talking, the bill would be put to an immediate vote.
In Senator Merkley's memorandum about Senate Reform, he cites the following "perverse effects" of the filibuster on the governing process:
** Failure to Craft Digestible Legislation: There is no floor time for smaller bills, so issues get assembled into large legislative packages that make it difficult for senators to fully understand and debate the contents.
** Failure to Consider House Legislation: The shortage of floor time also means that House bills languish unaddressed. Indeed, Senate Committees don’t even bother to take up most of the bills the House sends to the Senate, recognizing in advance that they are doomed.
** Failure to Consider Executive Branch Nominations: Over 125 executive nominees are pending [note, this includes members of commissions, etc.], damaging the executive branch. This is an abuse of the Senate’s “advise and consent” responsibilities.** Deepening of Partisan Divide: The minority party’s use of the filibuster power to paralyze the senate creates enormous frustration between the parties.
Merkley describes in detail the reforms that he and others would like to see insituted. My personal favorite:#5) Require filibustering senators to hold the floor: "The public believes that filibustering senators have to hold the floor. Indeed, the public perceives the filibuster as an act of principled public courage and sacrifice. Let’s make it so."
Gentlemen, that is how the business of government should be done.