As the DISCLOSE Act gets prevented from even consideration today, despite 57 or 58 votes for it (depending on whether Reid decides to vote No to bring it up at a later date–UPDATE: Final tally was 57-41; the measure cannot proceed), thoughts turn to the continuation of a busted super-majority system for one of our two legislative bodies. It’s important to note that the House of Representatives is not seen as a wildly unfair legislature by anyone in the body politic. And yet they mostly use a majority vote for their operations, as do dozens of other countries with their legislatures. There’s nothing magic about a super-majority, it has not been found to make better or wiser policy, and in the present circumstances it leads to nothing but gridlock, as the nation’s challenges lay unaddressed. Maybe the filibuster is fine if it isn’t used very much, but you cannot expect that in a partisan era. All it does it facilitate broken government.
Ryan Grim and Sam Stein wrote about momentum for the filibuster last week, as I did on Friday. This is a real movement, to use the beginning of the next Congress to change Senate rules with a majority vote. Tom Udall has been in the lead of this “Constitutional option,” which would allow the Senate to determine its own methods for organizing itself. There’s plenty of precedent for this move, and as we see today, plenty of need.
Alexi Giannoulias has become the latest Senator or Senate candidate to support the end of the filibuster.
Let me be crystal clear: should I be so fortunate as to be elected, on day one in the Senate, I will join the fight to amend the Senate rules and fix our broken filibuster system. I will vote in favor of Senator Udall’s proposed motion to consider the rules of the Senate, I will vote in favor of common-sense and fair filibuster reform, and I will work day and night to bring as many of my colleagues on board as possible.
All you have to do is look at the how close the vote counting is on the DISCLOSE act to know that the system is disgustingly broken. I think it will be a national embarrassment if DISCLOSE can’t come to floor, even with 59 votes. We MUST take corporations out of elections and reform the filibuster.
Giannoulias’ support brings the number to as many as 34 Democratic Senators, just 17 from the necessary total, in support of some change to the Senate rules. This will be a major issue to track going forward.