March 11, 2010

The Will to Fix Senate Rules

In January, I blogged about the obstruction and inefficiency that the nation has witnessed in the U.S. Senate throughout my first year in the "world's greatest deliberative body."

Since then things haven't improved. In many ways, they've actually gotten worse. Over the past two months, we've seen the list of bills passed by the House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate, climb to 290; we've seen a single senator hold up key legislation, causing the Highway Trust Fund and critical Unemployment Insurance to lapse; we've seen a single senator grind business to a halt to consider a project in his state; and we've seen routine nominations blocked by filibusters, or left to languish by the mere threat of filibuster, despite majority support of many.

The continued abuse of Senate rules is the kind of business-as-usual Washington politics that so frustrates the American people.

Our rules are broken and we need to fix them, and I have offered a simple proposal - the Constitutional Option.

Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states, "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings..." And at the beginning of the 112th Congress I will call on the Senate to exercise its constitutional responsibility to adopt its rules of procedure by a simple majority vote.

You can see an overview of my plan in this clip from the Rachel Maddow Show:

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In the time since my original post, I have been disappointed to see further abuses of Senate rules that bog down our ability to get work done, but I've also been encouraged to see a growing number of colleagues who are coming forward to express their frustration with the status quo.

We've seen good ideas from Senators Tom Harkin, Michael Bennet and others, and I'm looking forward to our upcoming hearings on the filibuster in the Senate Rules Committee. Yesterday, I was glad to hear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirm that the best way for us to amend the Rules is at the beginning of the 112th Congress, as I proposed in January. The Constitutional Option -- the foundation for reform -- provides the way for us to do just that.

The conversation on how to fix Senate rules has started and I want you to be a part of it. That's why I've created a new page on Facebook to discuss fixing Senate rules.

Become a fan of Fixing Senate Rules on Facebook.

I know there are a lot of ideas inside and outside of the Senate chamber, so let's keep the conversation going. It is time to fix the rules and get the Senate back on track and working for the American people again.