We’ve had a couple of conversations here of late about the idea of filibuster reform. And in the course of these conversations it has been pointed out that how you feel about filibustering has a lot to do with whether or not your party is in the minority. I’d say that’s a fair point and that whatever reform is put forward should be measured reform, with that very very fact in mind, that idea of protecting the minority voice. But the story I read this morning sure does leave one to think some kind of reform is in order.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced legislation to raise the debt ceiling on Thursday, apparently with the intent of showing that even Democrats would not support such a bill.
However, McConnell’s plan backfired after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called for a vote on the legislation, which would have given the president the authority to raise the federal debt ceiling on his own. The top Senate Republican was forced to filibuster his own bill.
“What we have here is a case of Republicans here in the Senate once again not taking ‘yes’ for an answer,” Reid said, after McConnell announced his filibuster. “This morning the Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on this proposal, just now I told everyone we were willing to have that vote — up or down vote. Now the Republican leader objects to his own idea. So I guess we have a filibuster of his own bill…”
Is this really what we should accept as deliberate debate in our highest chamber of government? Silly men playing at games of chicken?
The one notion I’ve heard mentioned as a potential reform is reverting to older practice where a filibuster would actually require the filibustering senator to speak on the floor. I like that idea. I don’t suggest this because I long for the days when we were all treated to the spectacle of senators sharing their laundry list or favorite bible passages to fill and kill time. But maybe, just inadvertently, if we make these men actually debate… well, maybe they will.