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In 2010, unions and other progressive groups formed a coalition to pressure the Senate to reform filibuster rules—unsuccessfully, as we know. Now, with more Democratic leaders understanding the necessity of reining in abuse of the filibuster as a tool for obstruction, the band is getting back together; the Fix the Senate coalition includes unions—the Communications Workers of America and the United Auto Workers—along with the Sierra Club and good-government group Common Cause.

Infographic showing sharp increase of use of filibuster for obstruction in the Senate.
The Fix the Senate coalition makes the stakes clear:
Republicans derailed energy and climate legislation, halted the DREAM Act, which passed the House while receiving 55 votes in the Senate, and blocked any debate on the Employee Free Choice Act, which passed the House with an overwhelming majority and garnered 59 supporters in the Senate. Most recently, in July, the DISCLOSE Act—which would have increased transparency over independent groups’ campaign spending—failed to overcome a Republican filibuster and died, despite receiving support from 51 Senators and past support from many current Republican opponents. Also in July, Senate Republicans blocked the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would have encouraged in-sourcing by providing tax incentives to companies that bring jobs back to the United States from overseas.
In other words, if you want the government to work at all, Republicans used the filibuster to block something you valued. The only people the current system is working for are those who want government to be broken.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 06:56 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Its as I have said (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, smiley7

    I don't mind there being some form of minority protection, but if you really want to hold something up then you should be held accountable and forced into the public eye to talk about.

    Bring back the old filibuster and break out the phone books, cots, water pans, and endless pots of coffee.

    I mean if you want to stand on your soap box, then by all means lets go all Mister Smith Goes to Washington

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:05:40 AM PST

  •  putting the democracy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83

    back in our democracy.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:16:04 AM PST

  •  The fact that Harry Reid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fordmandalay, bear83

    thought a "gentlemen's agreement" w/ Mitch McDonnell would solve the filibuster problem is additional proof that we need more women in the Senate.  

    It's not easy being a Floridian: PS I'm a lawYER now; no longer a lawSTUDENT.

    by lawstudent922 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:28:11 AM PST

  •  Although requiring a 'talking filibuster' (0+ / 0-)

    is a good step, far more needs to be done, including lowering the bar from 60 to 55 invoke cloture, requiring all 40-45 filibuster supporters to be present at all times, and moving to simple majority votes on executive and judicial nominees.

    The business of the nation cannot wait any longer.

    Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

    by bear83 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:58:23 AM PST

  •  Unions & Sierra Club still think Feds can function (0+ / 0-)

    I've given up all hope.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up !

    by Churchill on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:06:08 PM PST

  •  They still have high Hope & Change, ROF LMFAO (0+ / 0-)

    maybe they have been asleep the last 12 years.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up !

    by Churchill on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:06:40 PM PST

  •  Fire BAD! Trainwrecks good. nt (0+ / 0-)

    Fuck Big Brother...from now on, WE'RE watching.

    by franklyn on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:07:08 PM PST

  •  What took so long? (0+ / 0-)

    It's not as if "They" can "un-burn" the dinosaur effluence.

    "De-burn?"

    Unborne.

    After thinking about it with all the abnormal folds in my brain allI can come up with is: Humanity=fucked.

    I'd be willing to worklike a dog toward another option that made sense.

    The dire straits facing America are not due poor people having too much money

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:09:57 PM PST

  •  and how many federal judges (6+ / 0-)

    still have vacancies ?
    even if nominees passed through committee unanimously?

    •  A shameful number (6+ / 0-)

      83 current vacancies
      18 pending vacancies

      45 pending nominees, including 19 waiting only on a final floor vote in the Senate.

      http://judicialnominations.org/

      The GOP response? More delays - today. What a surprise...

      Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today ignored the calls of national and home-state groups and delayed Judiciary Committee votes on five federal judicial nominees, including that of a lesbian.

      Grassley, the committee’s ranking member, has routinely held back committee votes on judicial nominations for one, two, three or even six weeks, usually without providing a reason. Ninety-seven percent of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees who have had committee votes scheduled have met with these delays, before confronting even greater obstruction on the Senate floor.

      http://sdgln.com/...

      Please note - these delays are in committee - before the nominees ever get to the Senate floor to be met with filibusters.

      Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

      by bear83 on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:21:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I LOVE your work here! Thanks for this, another (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minerva, Rolfyboy6, Cat Servant

    reason to  will re up my Sierra Club membership for another year.

    Not really seeing this, cynical I guess

    Now, with more Democratic leaders understanding the necessity of reining in abuse of the filibuster as a tool for obstruction, the band is getting back together;
    They knew it imo,  liked the fact it gave them cover to go with the Repubs..... but now are bowing to pressure.  Sure hope so, anyway.

    Thanks for the action link.

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:11:51 PM PST

  •  Thank you John McCain (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rolfyboy6, Cat Servant, chuck utzman

    Supporters of filibuster reform should all be thanking John McCain.

    For there is no way any of them could come up with a more compelling, urgent, and timely display in favor of real filibuster reform than the spectacle of McCain promising, in utterly hypocritical, disingenuous fashion, to mount a filibuster against confirmation of Ambassador Rice for State (should she be nominated).

    He is once again serving his country with distinction.

    Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

    by Minerva on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:14:26 PM PST

  •  Harry SHOULD respond to McConnell about the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse

    filibuster: "Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the speech outlining filibuster reform, which I would appreciate if you would make personally."

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

    by TofG on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:31:49 PM PST

  •  Filibuster?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eps62

    10 states with a small population should stop government with no consequence? No 50 +1 period. The 19th century should not control the 21st century.

  •  This coalition has netroots origins, too. (3+ / 0-)

    It's actually what grew out of my work with Darcy Burner, when she was at Progressive Congress, starting in late 2009. With the help of some progressive allies, most notably our friends at CREDO Action, Blue America and Voices for Progress, we convened the first meetings of this coalition, outlined our basic inside/outside strategy, and went to town. Daily Kos entered the coalition as an active partner as well, with Chris Bowers heading up the DKos campaign actions.

    So, yeah. Daily Kos. News. Community. Action.

    We do things.

  •  Does Harry Get It? (0+ / 0-)

    "The only people the current system is working for are those who want government to be broken."

    Virtually every mother's son or daughter on the left wants the government fixed and the problem of the filibuster solved.  Does Harry get it?  Only time will tell.

  •  It stings that we came that close with the EFCA. (0+ / 0-)

    It's gonna be a long time before we get a House that can pass something like that again.

    Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

    by Zutroy on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:37:08 PM PST

  •  And major props to David Waldman (0+ / 0-)

    Check out

    Kagro In the Morning
    for some really excellent explanation of the filibuster's rules, practice, & history--good stuff.
    We really need to get this fixed--write/call/email your Senator(&Harry Reid)

    Warren is neither a Clintonesque triangulator nor an Obamaesque conciliator. She is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition, and her candidacy is a test of whether that approach can still appeal to voters.-J. Toobin "New Yorker"

    by chuck utzman on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:49:43 PM PST

  •  But ... but ... but ... (0+ / 0-)

    If the Senate gets rid of the filibuster and personal hold qua de facto minority veto, then DINO senators and presidents will no longer be able to pretend they favor progressive legislation and nominees in order to con their nominal constituents into supporting them! (Remember how votes for the "public option" evaporated when the Affordable Care Act went to reconciliation, where the filibuster was unavailable to hide behind...)

  •  Will we actually fix it? (0+ / 0-)

    I am concerned that Mr. Reid's proposal is inadequate. As I understand it, it would prevent secret filibusters only at the first legislative step, but would continue them at the second step (actually voting on the measure). It is obvious that I fail to understand the significance of the measure, because it appears to me to be pointless.

    Another point: the original purpose of the filibuster was to honor the Constitution's intent that the Senate be a deliberative body, immune to the immediate popular fads that would sway the House. They wanted to insure that everybody had their chance to say whatever they wanted. Only later did it evolve into an obstructionist ploy, and even then it was used only in rare cases.

    Nowadays it is seen as an important means of protecting the interests of the minority, but in practice this means only that we need a supermajority to get anything done. It seems to me that we would do best by returning the filibuster to its original purpose: as a means of insuring that the debate is complete. This would require all filibusters to be actual rather than virtual, as they are now.

    The one flaw in this concept is that a determined minority of as few as ten Senators could effectively block any legislation by rotating the floor-holding task among themselves. Not good.

    Is my thinking here wrong?

  •  This chart is wrong, so it hurts the point (0+ / 0-)

    Look at the difference in height between the 201 and the 385.  It's about the same as if you took the 201 and added to it the 84 from 1976-1982.  IOW, it's far too little difference.  There should be an almost doubling (actually the increase should be about 86%) but instead they increase it in the chart only about 40%.  

    Shame on them.

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