image: fix the filibuster

Good Enough For Mister Smith? Good Enough For The Senate

According to a new poll, 70% of Americans think senators should have to hold the floor and talk during a filibuster, just like Mister Smith in the famous movie. This shouldn’t come as a surprise—the silent filibusters of the current Senate have turned that body into a laughingstock and essentially shut down the entire Congress.

We’ve been asking everyone to demand that senators end this charade,  and more than 20,000 Common Cause activists have written to their senators to support filibuster reform. Unfortunately, too many senators are wedded to tradition, and too few are speaking up against obstructionism and gridlock.

One of those few, Jeff Merkely of Oregon, is worried. Yesterday, he told the Washington Post:

Filibuster reform has more momentum than it has had in a generation, but it’s not a sure thing, because there are great concerns over changing the rules in an institution that rarely changes its rules. We have a few short weeks. Unless folks mobilize outside of this building and drive a message home, then reform of the filibuster may fizzle.

According to Merkely, without a robust show of public support for rules changes, Senate Democrats will be tempted to settle for a watered down deal with Republicans. That’s what happened early in 2011, when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and and Democrat Harry Reid made a “gentleman’s agreement” to cut back on parliamentary abuses. Neither stayed a gentleman for long, and now we’re back to square one.

DC insiders live in their own little bubble, and while they’re busy fretting about the back-and-forth between Reid and McConnell, many often forget that dysfunction in the Senate has real consequences. From the DREAM Act to DISCLOSE, the absurd 60-vote rule has kept legislation that would have improved real peoples’ lives from getting a fair hearing.

Let’s remind them that there’s a world beyond Capitol Hill. Call 1-888-717-0911 and we’ll connect you to your senators today so you can let them know you won’t settle for watered-down reform. If partisans in the Senate want to filibuster every bill, they need to hold the floor and speak while they do it. If it’s good enough for Mister Smith, it’s good enough for them.

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