I recently wrote a post on the filibuster, and why I think it's time for the Senate to do away with it. The filibuster is a time-honored tradition of the United States Senate, and for over 200 years it worked as it was supposed to work (as a little used emergency measure). But that changed about twenty years ago, as the senators began to use it much more. And since President Obama was sworn into office, it has been been abused by the minority Republicans -- to block everything the president has tried to accomplish.
By filibustering everything, the Republicans have made it impossible to pass a bill or approve a presidential appointment without at least 60 votes (instead of a simple majority). That's because it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture (stop a filibuster), and when the Republicans vote in unison (which they almost always do) they are able to keep a filibuster going indefinitely (killing the legislation or appointment). This constant GOP obstructionism has made it impossible for the Senate to accomplish anything.
Joshua Green, over at the Boston Globe website, has compiled a short list of things that could have been accomplished if the filibuster did not exist. Here is his list:
* The United States would have a market-based system to control carbon emissions.
* The new health care law would have a public option.
* Children of undocumented immigrants who served to years in the military or got a college education could become U.S. citizens.
* Women paid less than their make colleagues because of their gender would have broader legal recourse against their employers.
* Billionaires would not be able to anonymously manipulate the political system.
If the Democrats retain their senate majority after the coming election, they would be crazy not to eliminate the filibuster rule. That is the only way to stop the ultra-right-wing Republican obstructionism in the Senate.
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