Get Your Activism On: Changing the Rules.
December 6, 2010 1 Comment
The other night, Rachel Maddow, on her show, addressed the rules and regulations for filibuster in the United States Senate. Currently, it only requires one Senator to filibuster, and that Senator does not have to remain on the Senate floor, or even in the Senate chamber. He or she can filibuster, then go off to dinner and home for the week, delaying any vote on a piece of legislation. I believe this is important to highlight—not just because the Republicans have filibustered any legislation that has come across their table in the past two years, but because procedurally, this does not make sense.
Senators were elected to do a job. They are being paid, by our tax dollars, to do a job—represent our voice in the chamber, and by passing legislation that the country needs to be passed, or not passed, as the case may be. We do not pay them to stand up and say “I don’t want to vote on this, I’m going to block this vote, and go home to sit on my butt.”
Rachel had Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon on her show. He is trying to change these rules. Not only to keep the Senate running and thereby ensuring the Senators are doing the job we are paying them to do, but to force Senators who do want to filibuster to remain on the floor. To keep individual Senators accountable, so that the public may see who exactly is holding up the Senate’s work, and who is actually doing the job we are paying them to do. After all, we elect no one to do nothing—we elect them to do something—to pass legislation, or not. We elect our representatives to VOTE. Whether that be to vote for or to vote against something, we elect them to do something. That something is not holding up the Senate and all the important business it has to attend to.
Read the whole of Senator Merkley’s proposal to change Senate procedures on filibuster here. Contact your Senator to encourage them to help Merkley, and to vote to change the procedure. Find your Senator and his/her contact information here. If you have time, contact Senator Merkley to thank him for undertaking this effort, and encourage him to continue fighting for this change.
I thought, like I’m sure many others did, that Senators had to be in the chamber, at the very least, to initiate and continue a filibuster. That the current Minority Party has been doing nothing but filibustering, even on legislation that they agree with, has angered me. But now, knowing that they don’t even have to expel any effort to hold up the Senate? I’m even angrier. I have to wonder, had this issue been brought up before the midterms, and the Majority party made a big deal of it, (that is, that Senators don’t have to be present to continue a filibuster) would the midterms have turned out differently? We’ll never know, but it’s something to note. Anyway! Read the proposal! Contact your Senator! It would only take a simple majority to change the rules!