February 10, 2010

Snowed in by Rules

In the last week we have seen more examples of how Senate rules can be used, as the President says, to gum up the works. We've had Senate business ground to a halt to consider the district projects of a single Senator. Then a routine nomination was blocked by a filibuster, despite majority support for the nominee.

The continued abuse of Senate rules is the kind of business-as-usual Washington politics that so frustrates the American people. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer blogged recently on the experience of Martha Johnson, who was just confirmed by a vote of 96-0 in the Senate after nine months of delay. We need to fix this system.

Read my proposal for the Constitutional Option for looking at the rules of the Senate.

We need rules that stimulate a meaningful debate involving both sides of the aisle. We need rules where all paths point to votes rather than to dead ends. But most of all, we need rules that have been adopted by the Congress that uses them. That's why at the beginning of the 112th Congress, I will make a motion that the Senate, in accordance with article I, section 5 of the Constitution, take up for immediate consideration the adoption of the rules for the Senate of the 112th Congress.

And while Washington is knee deep in snow puns as DC faces a filibuster from mother nature, its time we break the partisan freeze paralyzing the Senate and deliver the change Americans deserve.