Time for New Beginnings in Washington
4 months ago
In the new year, Senate must work to end dysfunction in elected government
The new year provides people the opportunity to have a new beginning, a second start. For many people, goals are focused on all of the things that people said they would do the year before and didn’t accomplish. Losing weight, staying connected with friends and family, going to church more, getting a new job or paying off debt are all things that people resolve to do starting Jan. 1.
The common theme, however, is getting more done. People see the New Year as a chance to be more effective and complete what they intend to. Congress has a few things that they should be focused on before the new year gets here – specifically making sure that tax cuts for middle- and working-class Americans and unemployment insurance are extended. But the work doesn’t end there. There are lots of things on the agenda for the next few years. For the U.S. Senate, the new beginning is an opportunity to make a resolution to be more effective.
On the first day of Congress, the Senate can vote to change the rules to make the legislative body function the way it should rather than the way it has been. During the 111th and 112th Congresses, the Senate filibustered more than ever before. The filibuster is a tool that is useful within the Senate but like many tools, when misused can cause dysfunction. As it has been used recently, the filibuster prevents a vote or even debate without obtaining 60 votes and threatens any legislative action by a body whose function is debating and passing sensible legislation. It has essentially been used to block legislation.