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Fix the Senate Now

July 15, 2013

The filibuster has damaged the U.S. Senate’s ability to fulfill its role in our government. Intended to ensure the minority voice is heard, we’ve never seen the filibuster used for obstructionism quite like this before.

Using the filibuster, Republicans have blocked energy and climate legislation, the DREAM Act, the Employee Free Choice Act, campaign reform legislation, the Bring Jobs Home Act, and dozens of executive and judicial nominations. These are laws and appointments that the majority of our elected officials favor, yet a small minority is able to halt the Senate’s work without consequence.

logjamOur economy is still recovering, and our environment is still in peril. Moreover, courts and administrative agencies are unable to function while they await Senate confirmation for nominees. The D.C. Circuit has three openings, including the seat vacated by now-Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005, that cannot be filled because of the filibuster. We need our leaders to act quickly to improve our country, and the filibuster is standing in their way.

Fix the Senate Now is an important campaign to limit the role of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Fix the Senate Now seeks to ensure that the Senate is no longer clogged up by filibusters by enacting the following rule reforms as Senate Resolution 4:

  • Eliminate the ability to filibuster the motion to proceed;
  • Require that those wishing to block legislation or nominations take the floor and actually filibuster – i.e., mandating “talking filibusters”;
  • Assert that 41 Senators must affirmatively vote to continue debate rather than forcing 60 Senators to end debate; and
  • Streamline the nomination process so that nominees will get a yes or no vote on the Senate floor, including a reduction of the required 30 hours of post cloture debate on a nominee to 2 hours

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force supports these reforms because they are in the best interest of our democratic system. Recalibrating the filibuster would revive the senate as a truly deliberative body, and lead to beneficial outcomes for all Americans. The Task Force has signed on to letters to the Senate leadership and the Democratic Senate leadership expressing, with urgency, the need for these reforms to Senate procedure. You can have an impact, too. Click here to sign up for email updates, share an infographic, or just learn more about the issue. You can also contact your U.S. Senators to express your support for the Senate Resolution 4 rules reform package.

Fix the Senate Now is a product of The Democracy Initiative, a coalition of over seventy labor, civil rights, voting rights, environmental, good government and other like-minded membership organizations that seek to restore equality to our political system.

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