Oregon, USA
December 01
Happy to be here among friends.


DECEMBER 5, 2010 6:42PM

Put Congress Back to Work!

Rate: 14 Flag

 Mr Smith Goes to Washington

Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley is becoming Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

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 in Budgeting Responsibilities: Given the shortage of floor time, in 2010 the Senate did not adopt a budget and passed no appropriation bills.

** 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.

** Failure to Consider Judicial Nominations: Forty-eight judicial nominations are bottled up in the Senate, leaving crucial federal judgeships unfulfilled.

** 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.

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As it was before let it be again. A filibuster used to require actual Senators talking on the floor of the Senate not just the idea that 41 Senator's do not want to see a decision that they do not like.

If we are to allow filibusters because of an unlimited debate concept then let them debate. This idea of theoretical filibusters has stopped all useful process in the Senate. I have no issue with unlimited debate, but feel this perversion of the concept is very bad for our country.
I like your comment:

"As it was before let it be again."

I agree that the way filibuster has been used and abused recently has stopped all progress.

Thanks for coming by.
And this he did, and this he did, with all the energy and purpose afforded that little rule shaped for emergency

stop the advance of the 451s
Maybe more than a dream. He has a group to push it and there will still be the old Senate. Hey, maybe the teapartiers might like it though. You know?

It gives me hope.
I will help you with that noodle slapping!
........and the band played on.

We shall see, sky pixeo
It's an interesting plan for sure. Do the Democrats have the votes to make the change?
Merkley is calling it the 'magic 51'. Before the new TPers move in, there could be a chance. Maybe the Repubs will think it work to their favor.
I love him for trying.
His memo on this is a very good read.
I dont know how (or why) you breed such good people up there in Oregon, but I'm glad you do!
Haer, Hear! With the C-Span cameras rolling, let each party that filibusters stand up and tell why. This was something that was arely used at one time. Now, it seems every bill is fillibusted. Great post and great idea!
Maybe it's the water. I know it makes good beer!

Wouldn't that be a gas to see! I actually went on Amazon last night and ordered Mr Smith Goes to Washington. The poster made me homesick for exactly this thing.
I fixed the link to Senator Merkley's plan. My apologies to those who were directed to a google search for Open Salon. (Such are the ptifalls to being me on dialup.)
you alway put so much work into your posts Steph, I really appreciate that....worthy topic to boot!
God help us if McConnell decides to filibuster for 72 hours! There will be an epidemic of narcolepsy.
I thank you and greet you and your winsome baby. Love that picture!
The hardest one to do so far has been on Salmon. I found so many great pictures.

I think if McConnel tried to talk that long he would fall over in a coma just listening to himself.
Any progress in DC would be a welcome surprise.

Maybe Bernie is setting them up for this. Looks like an old fashioned filibuster.
I like the guys in charge here in Oregon. Ron Wyden in particular. Filibuster or not though, the threat of a filibuster wouldn't work if some people had a little more backbone.
Yeah, we got lucky or just smart with our choices.
Wyden has really proven himself over the years. Putting together a deal over water in South Oregon was masterful.
The Middle Class is well served here.
Ron Wyden is masterful, and I phone banked for Kitzhaber and protested with Planned Parenthood against that other guy. The middle class is well served up to a point. It's still very expensive to live here in Portland, but you're right that we're well off compared to a lot of other states.
I thank you for your civic service. Yeah, the other guy is best forgotten.
I also love our DeFazio. Pregressive to a fault.
In comparison, there is no contest. Trees, water and great politics!
Maybe this is why our country is in such trouble...
Hi Algis,
Unsure of the "this" in your comment but agree with the thought that the Senate is in trouble as far as doing work.
I hope Reid does hold them until Christmas Eve for their footdragging.