2011-01-28 / Letters

Senate Needs Filibuster Reform

Dear Editor,

Since 2006, a minority of U.S. Senators have distorted a fundamental precept set forth in our Constitution. In the past four years they have used the threat of a filibuster more than 250 times to block more than 10 percent of proposed legislation. It has become a familiar tool of a Senate minority to obstruct the will of the majority; the Constitution states that a majority is needed to act on legislation but according to correct Senate rules, 60 are required to end a filibuster. This makes a mockery of the principle of majority rule on which democracy is based.

The constitution specifies special occasions that need more than a majority vote, but voting in legislation is not among these. The Supreme Court has already declared that “any departure from strict majority rule gives disproportionate power to a minority.”

During the recent Congressional session, we saw many bills passed by the House, sent to the Senate and then tabled because of the lack of 60 “electoral” votes. Thus, merely the threat of a filibuster can prevent a vote on a bill that is supported by the majority of Senators and the American citizens whom they represent. One Senator can say, “No!” and thus control what laws the Senate can or cannot discuss or vote on. The filibuster violates the form of government for which the founders fought and what we and our forefathers have believed America stands for.

At present, there is a strong package of filibuster reforms before the Senate. It will be voted on when the Senate reconvenes on January 24. Cosponsors of this reform include New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

It’s important to let our elected representatives know what we, the people, think of the decisions they make. Write or call our Senators! Let Senator Gillibrand learn that we appreciate her support of the ideals of our country and Constitution. And we should urge Senator Charles Schumer to come forward and join the cosponsors of filibuster reform and use his position of strength and leadership in the Senate to aid this course.


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