Filibuster reform!

Filibuster reform!

December 20, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ruled the U.S. Senate with an iron fist since Democrats took the Senate majority after the 2006 election.  He obstructed almost all of then-President George W. Bush’s nominees by refusing to schedule confirmation votes even for non-controversial nominees to important positions.  He has consistently used his power as Majority Leader to entirely shut Republicans out of the legislating process, and he now has the audacity to claim that Republicans are obstructing the legislative process.  He is now seeking to take away the filibuster, which is currently the Minority party’s only check on Majoritarian rule. 

We need you to tell the truth about what Harry Reid is doing, and to call your Senators and tell them to oppose Reid’s unprecedented power grab!

What Harry Reid Is Actually Doing

Few people have time to watch Senate proceedings on C-SPAN every day, and the mainstream media will not cover stories that jeopardize Reid’s liberal agenda.  So, not only has Harry Reid has been getting away with tyranny, but he’s getting away with claiming that it’s the Republican Minority that is being unreasonable.  Here’s how he does it:

The Senate Majority Leader’s power comes from his ability to be recognized on the Senate floor before anyone else.  So, when he brings a bill to the Senate floor, he uses procedural tricks to shut out minority amendments and debates by:

“Filling the Tree”

Senate rules limit the number of amendments that can be added to bills.  So Reid uses his power of recognition to fill the amendment slots, usually with inconsequential amendments like changing commas, changing section numbers or names, etc., thus, keeping the Minority party from offering amendments.

Selectively Adding Republican Amendments

While “filling the amendment tree,” Reid will often throw in a few Republican amendments that are non-controversial and do not interfere with his agenda.  That enables him to say he included the Minority in the process, while keeping them from offering any amendments they actually want.

Same-Day Cloture Motions

After bringing a bill to the floor and “filling the tree,” Reid will frequently file a Cloture motion, which is a motion to end debate. Senate Rules allow a Senator to speak as long as he or she desires and on any subject he or she desires unless 3/5 of the Senate votes to “invoke Cloture” to end the debate.  “Filibuster” or prolonging debate to stall or block the passage of legislation can be a powerful tool for the Minority party.  Reid consistently invokes Cloture almost simultaneously with bringing the bill to the floor, setting up the fiction that Republicans are filibustering, when in reality, they haven’t even had the chance to start debating.  Liberals then criticize Republicans for voting against Cloture motions, claiming they are obstructing Senate business, when in truth, they are simply voting to protect their right to properly consider matters before voting on them.

Harry Reid created the fiction that Republicans are abusing the filibuster so he can justify getting rid of it, and calling it “reform.”  We must not let him get away with it.

Reid Must Break Senate Rules to Change Them

There is one more twist. In order for Reid to amend Senate Rules to limit the filibuster, he will have to break Senate Rules.  Unlike the House of Representatives, which changes every two years, the Senate is a continuing body, the members have staggered terms, so rules stay consistent from one session to the next.  Reid wants to discard the notion that the Senate is a continuing body and change Senate rules to require only a simple majority to end a filibuster.

We are all frustrated with the radical nominees and legislation Obama, Reid and Pelosi have been able pass, but without the filibuster, we could not have stopped legislation like “Card Check” and “Cap and Trade,” and could not have stopped some of President Obama’s most radical nominees.

 Take Action!

Please share this information with as many people as you can.  It is up to us to set the record straight about what Reid is really doing.  We need everyone to call their Senators and demand that they stop Harry Reid’s power grab disguised as “reform.”  Tell your Senators to oppose all changes to Senate rules. 

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Note:  Although this is a partisan issue, even some liberal Senators are concerned about exercising this option, particularly senior Senators who have served while their party was in the Minority.  If the rule is changed liberals will have to live under it just like conservatives when the power shifts.

 


Further Reading:

Reid must wrestle with undecided Dems to reform filibuster rules