Time for New Beginnings in Washington
4 months ago
In the new year, Senate must work to end dysfunction in elected government
In more recent years, many bills that had bipartisan support in the House couldn’t even be debated, much less voted on in the Senate because of the filibuster. Bills that have been blocked by filibuster include the DREAM Act, Employee Free Choice Act, Bring Jobs Home Act, and many others. Garrett Epps wrote in "The Atlantic" that “a legislative body that cannot bring itself even to vote on 400 bills really is not a legislative body at all – it is a graveyard, where self-government staggers off to die.” This is what the Senate has allowed the filibuster to do to its legislative powers.
Unless the Senate reforms its rules on the first day of its convening, we can expect yet another session of dying bills. At a time when partisanship seems to be at an all-time high and there are senators who have verbally committed themselves to ruining the president and his legacy, there should be no faith that gamesmanship won’t stymie productive legislative work. When senators don’t want a bill to advance, they don’t even have to be present in order to stop it through a filibuster; they can simply be in the cloak room having a cup of coffee and prevent the bill from progressing. The solution or resolution should be to vote for Senate Rules Reform on January 3.
Sensible filibustering is needed and should be encouraged. The National Action Network has signed on to support sensible Senate Rules Reform through Fix The Senate Now. We have seen what partisanship can do to the legislative process. Come Jan. 1, we’ll all be hoping we haven’t fallen off the fiscal cliff and that middle- and working-class Americans have been protected. But the resolve must be on making bills with bipartisan support pass into sensible laws. It’s a new beginning and there’s always hope for change.