Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Filibuster Issue

Ok, bear with me as I set the "stage" for this week's blog topic....


On November 21st, the Senate struck down nearly 225 years of precedent by ending the long-standing filibuster rules for most presidential nominations, a remarkable change in procedure that has been the subject of a years-long fight between Democrats and Republicans.  The vote was nearly down party lines, with a couple Democrats siding with the GOP that this was a dangerous move, politically.  This move is known as the “Nuclear Option!”  Oddly enough, those that preached against this move before, claiming that “…this “nuclear option” would fundamentally change the very foundation and structure of our democratic procedures and should never be implemented.” (Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.)).

First in 1917 and then in 1975, the Senate formally set up rules for “cloture motions,” the name given to the parliamentary device to shut down debate. It requires the affirmative votes of 60 sitting senators.

The Constitution cites only five requirements for Senate supermajorities, including impeachment convictions of presidents, but allows the House and Senate to set their own rules. Under long-standing resolutions, the Senate considers itself to be a “continuing body” whose parliamentary rules remain in effect unless a two-thirds supermajority votes to change them.

Here’s a brief recent history of the Senate’s rules disputes:

May 2005: A bipartisan “Gang of 14″ agrees to work together to avoid blocking several judicial nominees selected by President George W. Bush. Senators who helped negotiate the deal included John Warner (R-Va.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

February 2010: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) dismisses an effort by some Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, saying the chamber’s procedures were designed to prevent the majority party from unilaterally changing the rules. Some junior Senate Democrats were pushing to change the rules to avoid GOP attempts to block nominations and legislation.

Early January 2011: Senate leaders use a parliamentary trick to leave the chamber in a state of suspended animation — in reality adjourned since Jan. 5 but officially considered in a long recess that’s part of the same individual legislative day — until later in the month as they work out a proposed change in the rules.

January 22, 2011: The chamber makes its most significant rules change in 35 years by agreeing to speed up its work by limiting the use of the filibuster and dropping the confirmation process for about 400 federal agency nominees.

November 2012: Shortly after Election Day, Reid and McConnell begin sparring over several days on the Senate floor after the Democratic leader once again threatens to change the rules by eliminating the filibuster vote needed to formally begin debate on legislation. He would allow for a final filibuster vote, thus making the chamber run more efficiently.

December 2012: Showing how far some are willing to go to challenge what they consider arcane rules, a federal judge hears in a case about whether Congress is constitutionally required to pass legislation by a simple majority vote and whether the Senate’s filibuster rules violate such a requirement.

January 24, 2013: Reid and McConnell agree to a bipartisan compromise authored by a handful of senior senators. The new rules essentially short-circuit one filibuster vote during the “motion to proceed” to a bill, when the chamber begins considering legislation. Republicans had increasingly filibustered the motion to begin debating legislation to slow the passage of bills or block them.

July 11, 2013: During a blistering floor dispute over threatened rules changes, McConnell said that if Reid goes through with the so-called nuclear option, “our friend the majority leader is going to be remembered as the worst leader here ever.”

July 26, 2013: In another near-meltdown, Republicans agreed to confirm several of President Obama’s executive branch nominees and, in exchange, Democrats agreed to leave existing filibuster rules in place. The agreement came after an unprecedented closed-door meeting of senators in the Old Senate Chamber.

Nov. 21, 2013: Senate Democrats voted to change the chamber’s rules so that federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been required for more than two centuries. The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominees..... at least for now.....

There are a number of pros and cons to this change.  Click Here to view an article written that sites some of these issues, as presented by Dr. Galloway, the senior specialist in American government for the Library of Congress.


Topic Question: Is the change in the Senate rules on filibustering a good thing that is basically long overdue, or will it have fundamental changes that go way beyond current issues?  Will this change set a "dangerous imbalance" in our government, especially if one party is in control of both the House and the Senate?

47 comments:

  1. The change in the Senate filibustering is definitely a good thing that is long overdue. Sure there are a few drawbacks to the new principles, one being that if a party controls the Senate they will get just about whatever legislation they want passed. However, this is democratically correct because the Senators were elected as represented by the people to make decisions. Filibustering can prevent legislation which the majority wants, to not be accepted, because a few members do not want it passed and threaten to filibuster until the Senators change their minds. In addition, the article posted above explains that filibustering promotes popular resentment. It can cause the Senate to be at dispute at home and even abroad. I believe that these new changes can help America's government to move forward and actually help the whole nation to make progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "the Senators were elected as represented by the people to make decisions." Do you think that the senators will vote for the people, or vote for their party? The Senators are supposed to represent the people but in reality they do what is best for their party. And also you say that because "a few members do not want it passed." So does that mean we are going to completely ignore the minorities say in this and have the Senators pass whatever they want? Sure more laws will be passed, but will they be what the people want?

      Delete
    2. I agree with your post. I feel as if it will benefit the people more with this change. also, it will altercate most decisions to focus on what the people want as well.

      Delete
    3. I agree with you Abu, filibustering is something good. It promotes balance and it avoids tyrannical legislating. And Bish, as for your statement "The Senators are supposed to represent the people but in reality they do what is best for their party" The Senators are still representing the people while doing what is best for their party. The ideologies of the political parties that these Senators represents, appeal to the interest of the people. After all, to get elected, they have to present their ideologies (mostly influenced by their parties) and their goals to the people and thus, the people vote for whichever Senator they want based on this. Thus, as Abu said "..Senators were elected as represented by the people to make decisions"

      Delete
    4. I agree with you Abu. And Bishoy filibustering just causes problems in the government. Plus who cares what the minorities say, the majority has already agreed on the bill/law. Also if the senators do not represent the people, they will lose fame and be voted out.

      Delete
    5. I agree with you abu, that change is long overdue and the ridding of filibustering is vigorous, because in the end it will benefit government and will be to progress ahead. I also agree that, though the control of the senate and passing of absurd bills is wrong, but they are only doing what they people please. After all they, they are elected for that reason.

      Delete
    6. I agree with the point that Maya suggests. The majority opinion on a proposed bill or law poses no issue. The minority opinion is quite irrelevant on the stance and really was not a major factor in my decision to sway this way.

      Delete
  2. So I do not have enough knowledge on filibuster, so bear with me here. I think the primary reason for a filibuster before the 21st century was just a way to ensure that the minority opinions were heard and understood. Now it is a way to kill a bill by talking it to death. I don't think that filibustering should go away, I think they should make a rule of some sort so that the minority can be heard, but not talk it to death. The filibuster tactic used by the GOP prevented multiple bills being passed, such as the firearm background checks bill. If filibustering was ridden of, then the democrats would be able to pass anything they want. But, if we keep the filibuster then bills would not get passed and their would be no compromises. I don't know which option is better, so their needs to be modifications to filibustering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your post for the most part. You have some very logical points, but i do think that Filibustering is still for helping the people more then hurting them.

      Delete
    2. You said that the firearm background checks failed because of filibustering, but do you know that a poll was taken and 90 percent of the people voted for the bill? Filibustering goes against what the people want, and will keep the government in deadlock and nothing will be solved.

      Delete
    3. Yes Bishoy YES MY GOOD MAN!! Someone with some sense! I must agree that great minds think alike. Filibustering was a problematic issue in Senate, however we can't just get rid of it. What will that do the the minorities and the power it will give the majorities! Compromise must be met... as usual.

      Delete
    4. Bishoy wow surprising you have a really good post. I completely agree with you that "Now it is a way to kill a bill by talking it to death." and i sort of agree that filibustering should be regulated a bit. However I don't think that that is completely possible. For example if we time the filibusters then they wouldn't really be considered filibusters.

      Delete
  3. This change is actually a good thing. Filibustering in the Senate may have it's faults, but overall it is a positive thing. One major default that it had involved the amount of power a party that controls the senate will have. They will get any legislation that they desire passed and that it not good. But in a way, it is what the people asked for. They voted for that representative so they logically trust him/her with any decisions made. On the contrary, it can also prevent certain things from happening that the public might not want. If there is a bill to be passed and some don't agree, they may use Filibuster to their advantage and get the decision to change. Although this has some defaults, the positives are able to overcome the bad. Filibustering is something that can be better for the people as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But isn't it dangerous that the democrats have to much power now? Basically if a party holds two branches of the government they will pass whatever they want. It is unfair for the second party. I think filibustering could be used as a part of checks and balances if it is used correctly.

      Delete
    2. As I said, Filibustering is something positive and it is a rather effective tool in preventing domineering legislation and it creates balance. Thus, with that said I agree with you Jenn, that Filibustering is something that people can use to persuade others to go against certain legislation or for it or perhaps maybe reach a compromise

      Delete
    3. Jen I don't think filibustering can be good for the people. The people can vote for a bill but because of filibustering it will fail. It is unfair to the people and it is not a democratic process of getting rid of bills. Also Bishoy, I think it is time for the government to start passing bills, and the people should be a part of the "checks and balances" not filibustering.

      Delete
    4. Power and the equal distribution of power are key words about filibustering. It gives the minorities a voice and influence when discussing and allows them to monitor the executive powers.

      Delete
  4. After assimilating what filibustering is, I thought that it is a rather positive factor that safeguards the interest of the minority and it creates balance. Although filibustering have its faults, overall it is a tool that makes the government work efficiently and it is a rather preventive measure to avoid domineering legislation. Through this tool, a legislation wanted by the majority and disliked by the minority can be prevented from being passed, thus, it creates balance. Also, the idealism of filibustering can lead to compromises that satisfies both the majority and minority about a certain legislation. Thus, filibustering is something positive that establishes balance and cultivate compromises

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an interesting point; that is true, it does create balance. And it is actually something that i have not thought about. It also favors the people because balance is something that is important to them.

      Delete
    2. Wow, balance did not come to mind when reading this blog topic, but balance is provided and a balance of power is needed because without it the governement would not function well.

      Delete
    3. I like how you mentioned how it is a better way to reach compromises; those which satisfy the major and minority.

      Delete
    4. I think a balance of power is extremely hard to achieve, and may even be subject to interpretation. However, I do believe this change could bring about a so called closer "balance of power."

      Delete
    5. I actually dont like how you brought up compromises; as we all know, compromises are temporary "patch-up" ways to procrastinate from making an important decision. (Need I mention the latest crisis involving the national debt?)

      Delete
  5. Getting rid of filibustering is definitely a good thing, and its about time. Filibustering is a cheap way of stopping bills from being passed, and is just creating deadlock in the government. Basically it wont allow a bill because someone doesn't think it should be passed. Because of filibustering their is no progress happening in the government, none of the issues this country is being resolved because bills are can not be passed. At least with filibustering out of the way, bills can start being passed again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You said that if filibustering is gone then issues will be resolved. Well the the thing is bills will be passed, but it will only be in the interest of a certain party. It will benefit the party and not the people. Also what about the opinions of the minorities? Are they just going to not matter. Wouldn't it be smarter to modify filibustering instead of getting rid of it? If we get rid of filibustering then one party can have all the power.

      Delete
    2. I agree with you maya, that the ridding of filibustering is a robust decision for the people as well as the American government and in doing so the government would progress because its about time there is a stop to all these ridiculous legislations being passed.

      Delete
    3. Filibustering is a good thing in the idea that we will be able to pass bills but these bills will be dominated by the majority party in the Senate. Unless the Senate is equally balanced, which it isn't, bills will be dominated by the Democrats or Republicans. Is this a good thing since it suppresses the minority ideas?

      Delete
    4. Justin, I disagree with you. I can definitely see stances on why this change has negative faults, as many things do. But this deadlock down in Washington is very troubling and we are all aware of its consequences. Filibustering itself is a deadlock in my eyes, and this change may lead to a break in this standstill.

      Delete
    5. Karishma, I am very confused about your post. Maya stated that nothing was being passed with filibustering; what do you mean by "ridiculous legislation?"

      Delete
    6. Yes I completely agree with you on the situation of deadlock. Filibustering just crates more unnecessary tension in the government and prevents America from making progress. If it is taken away we would move forward as a nation a lot quicker.

      Delete
  6. I think this change is needed and is most definitely a tip-top thing.Yes, filibustering has its flaws, but it has many beneficial aspects that over come the flaws.I know that its is wrong for a party to control the senate, because then do as they wish, as far as getting any legislation passed. But, in reality, they are just doing as the people say. But an upside is, that filibustering can avert and keep specific things out of the public's eye, of what they wish not to have. And I feel that this can pave a path in order for the government to progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just doing what the people say? What is most likely going to happen is that they will be doing what the people don't want. Bills will be passed as they will by one party but these senators don't vote for what the people wants, as sad as it may seem, but for what their party wants.Also by doing this the minority party will be completely ignored and have no voice in whatever is being passed. Should we just completely ignore these voices of the people?

      Delete
    2. Filibustering just causes problems in the government and averts them from moving forward. Also, who cares what the minority say, it the majority that counts and agree on a legislation. If they don't do as the people please, they will not be re-elected and voted out.

      Delete
    3. Okay I'm just curious as to what extent you feel it is good for legislation to be hidden from the public? I can understand somethings, like defense policies and projects, but federal legislation? I dont understand.

      Delete
  7. While the filibuster was initially meant to amplify the voice of the minority, it has become an unofficial way to stall voting in the Senate. Senators use the filibuster, originally used to encourage a more open discussion, as a way to push back the idea stopping it from being heard. By constantly “talking it to death” as the Key element stated, Senators have been disallowing killing bills or even smaller discussions by constantly having them pushed back. However, was it good to get rid of it? I wouldn’t say so. The reason being because it did indeed act as the “voice for the minority” and without it a majority dominated Senate can control the passing and voting of bills. I would say to alter the use of the filibuster to a limited spectrum of time or not allow one’s speaking to push the entire vote back. If filibustering occurs then the Senate should come to a vote anyway to prevent further pushbacks. Without the filibuster, whichever party dominates the Senate will pass whichever bills they want ignoring the republican voice. However, it obviously has become a problem since nothing can be passed by its abuse of power. So we need to meet in the middle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree; although I feel filibusters are generally positive tactics; I realize the negatives. And although all those bills and discussions get pushed back and they eventually are enacted, the delay is not needed. It stifles the minority voice.

      Delete
    2. Soo you say filibustering shouldn't be taken away completely however the way it stands currently to is not good either. So what exactly is your solution then. I believe that there really is no way in which we could regulate filibustering. It either can stay or go.

      Delete
  8. The Senate's historic "nuclear option" vote Thursday to end the filibuster for executive nominees and most judicial nominees is excellent news for Democrats. The changing of the filibuster means the minority party there will no longer be able to filibuster, or talk out, some nominees to the federal judiciary and the executive branch. Now, more judges will fully follow the constitution and laws. I think, however, filibusters are positive things. They do not really prevent legislation; legislation prevented are always enacted later. Also, filibusters are a way to check, keep an eye on the executive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, but us constantly pushing things back, even small decisions, is causing a huge backup. This ability to avoid compromise allows politicians to just continually vote on party lines.

      Delete
    2. There are other ways to keep checks and balances without the filibuster...

      Delete
  9. James, I do agree with you that filibuster is something positive. Though again, it does have its flaws such as: a beneficial legislation being delayed from being pass due to filibustering.. However, the positives does outweighs the negatives. The balance that it creates is something positive and beneficial for the people

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was meant to be posted as a comment to Jamie's post

      Delete
    2. Chrizxia, I highly disagree with the last sentence of your comment. Ideally, there should be a balance created. However with constant deadlocking, the system isn't working as well as it ought to, which is why it's more negative than positive. It's definitely good to get rid of it.

      Delete
  10. The change in senate regarding the filibuster issue is definitely a good thing; although not entirely. This would help regulate a majority rule pertaining to legislation passing in senate. I personally think this would work because it is indisputable that not much has been getting done in Washington. There are multiple suggestions posed such as term limits, and I think this could go a long way for change

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Filibuster rule is a joke. Any premise of it being used to amplify the voice of the minority, or to enchance discussion is just political disillusionment of it's true purpose, to allow politicians either not willing to compromise, talk on, or kill bills the ability to not have to do so. I would attribute most of our current deadlock to this policy honestly. Not only considering the bills and propositions that have been pushed back a thousand times via filibuster, this policy also sets a precedence of not having to make a decision, take a stand, or even listen to others. This alone is reason enough to end this policy.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's definitely long overdue and for the better that filibusters are getting removed. Instead of constantly dead locking in the senate as in recent years, bills and laws might actually be passed now that pesky filibuster obstacles are gone.

    ReplyDelete