Senator Al Franken wants to make a tactic Republicans have increasingly used to delay and prevent legislation from passing a little bit harder to use. Right now the only way to stop debate in the Senate and have a vote on the issue is for 60 Senators to vote for what is called “cloture”. The filibuster rule, as it is commonly called, has put the burden on the majority to find enough votes to end debate.
Senator Franken wants to put the burden of continuing debate on the minority, requiring that there be 41 votes against ending debate for a filibuster to continue. To do so, he has introduced a resolution to change the rules of the Senate.
“The minority must always maintain the right to continue debate,” said Sen. Franken. “But if the minority feels that strongly about an issue it should be their burden to continue that debate, not a supermajority’s to end it.”
The change could return the Senate to the era of when filibusters were rare because Senators who wanted to continue the filibuster had to show up and stay on the floor of the Senate. Right now there can be a 59 to 0 vote to end a filibuster and it can continue on.
Last year, Senator Franken sat down with The UpTake’s Mike McIntee to talk about the need to reform the Senate filibuster rule.
Senator Franken mentioned the “slow walking” tactics used by current Senators. One scenario: after a 60-40 vote for a nominee, cloture is invoked, which delays the vote for 30 hours. When the Senate votes again after cloture, the vote on the same nominee might be 98-0. “They’re actually voting to filibuster things they’re for,” Franken said.
Full video of interview with Al Franken from July 2010
Sen. Franken also co-sponsored legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that would reform several other Senate rules. The bill included provisions that would, among other things:
· Eliminate the filibuster on Motions to Proceed
· Eliminate secret holds
· Guarantee consideration of amendments for both majority and minority
· Ensure real talking filibuster debate
· Expedite nominations
Full video of interview with Al Franken from July, 2010