Remember Jimmy Stewart's classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? I love that movie. That's what most of us think of when we hear the word "filibuster" -- a single passionate senator speaking for hours about legislation they fiercely oppose until they literally collapse with exhaustion.
But that's not what the filibuster really looks like. Now any senator can make a phone call to register an objection to a bill, then head out for the night. In the meantime, business comes to a screeching halt.
On the first day of the new session in January, the Senate will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a simple majority vote, rather than the normal two-thirds vote. The change can be modest: If someone objects to a bill or a nomination in the United States Senate, they should have to stand on the floor of the chamber and defend their opposition. No more ducking responsibility for bringing the work of this country to a dead stop.
It is certainly the point
of view of those in the minority (regardless of party) that filling the tree blocks an individual senator’s right to offer policy proposals that might secure numerical majority support, and is
therefore oppressive and detrimental to the democratic process. It is closer to the point of view
of the majority leader (regardless of who is holding that position) that filling the tree is a
response to an obstructionist minority—either the party or a single senator—that aims mainly to
prevent a Senator from changing the subject, and temporarily at that.
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