Break the Gridlock in Washington by Reforming the Filibuster

Target: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Goal: Persuade Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to reform the filibuster and decrease governmental gridlock.

In recent years, Washington DC has been virtually paralyzed by the overuse of the filibuster in the Senate. This filibuster is a tactic which allows a minority in the Senate to continue debate indefinitely, thus stopping a bill from being voted on. In order to break a filibuster, 60 votes (a supermajority) are required to end the debate and begin voting; as 60 votes are very difficult to get in our hyper-partisan political environment, the filibuster is a very powerful obstructive tactic.

What originally was intended as a tool of last resort, allowing the minority to protest a bill which they absolutely object to, has become the norm. The filibuster abuse situation is akin to if a labor strike were to go from an extreme tactic to the norm: work would stop and the productivity of the corporation/government would grind to a complete halt.

With a de-facto filibuster attached to virtually every piece of legislation entering the Senate, a supermajority is needed to get almost anything done; this is not conducive to a functional government, nor is it how the filibuster, as originally designed, was intended.

Originally, the filibuster required a senator who wished to continue the filibuster to speak continuously for the duration of their filibustering – if there is nobody willing to continue the filibuster, debate ends and the voting begins. In 1957, Strom Thurmond set the current record of longest continuous filibuster (fighting the Civil Rights Act) by a single senator at 24 hours and 18 minutes. Unfortunately, the current operation of the filibuster has changed to allow a senator to simply declare a filibuster then go home, making it a tactic without a cost.

While the filibuster is important to preserve, as the minority must have some power to object to or stall extreme legislation, it should not be without cost. In order to sustain a filibuster, the filibustering senator/party should be required to continuously speak for the duration of the time they wish to prolong debate. By making it unreasonable to filibuster everything, as has been done recently, gridlock in Washington can be reduced and tyranny by the minority can be broken.

This petition is directed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and is intended to persuade him to reform the filibuster by restoring it to its original rules. By signing this petition, you are signaling your support for the reform of the filibuster, not to remove it as a tactic, but to make it have a cost to the obstructing politicians; though this change, we can reduce gridlock in Washington DC and compel our politicians to stop partisan games and actually address policy.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,

As you are evidently aware, the filibuster has been abused in recent years, bringing the progress of the federal legislative branch to a halt. I am contacting you today to ask that you push towards reform of the filibuster tactic, while still keeping it as an option for the minority.

Out of the many ways which can be used to reform the filibuster, simply restoring the original rules of the filibuster is arguably the most effective method. By requiring the filibustering senator or party to have a continuous presence on the Senate floor for the duration of the filibuster, it is possible to retain the right to filibuster, yet disincentivize its use in all but the most extreme cases. While the filibuster is now being abused, it is an important tactic for the minority to have in order to stop extreme legislation, thus removing it wholesale is far more dangerous than this simple rule restoration.

I, and everybody else who has signed this letter, implore you to restore the filibuster rules to their original form, thus making it harder for a minority in one legislative branch to bring Washington to a halt. By making it possible, albeit very unpleasant to filibuster, it will allow Washington to move away from petty partisan gamesmanship and towards legislating solutions to the serious issues that currently face our country.

Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

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111 Signatures

  • Lynn Juozilaitis
  • Ann Blank
  • Eveline Mutsaerts
  • tam O
  • Mary-Carol Gales
  • Debbie Biere
  • Carole Mathews
  • Amy Wilson
  • Janet Delaney
  • Amy McKeon
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