Senator Harry Reid has been discussing filibuster reform ad nauseum. First of all, what exactly is a filibuster? It’s a technique that allows a senator to stall the vote on a bill or amendment in order to rally support in opposition. This used to mean the senator had to hold the floor. You hold the floor by standing and talking. That’s right. No sitting. No bathroom breaks. Those were the good old days. Today, in fact, you don’t even need to be present to filibuster. All a Senator has to do is indicate that they want to filibuster. That would have been like Ghandi going on a hunger strike while eating a hot dog.
So, Senator Reid is pushing for filibuster reform which would require changing Senate rules. You need a 60% majority to be filibuster proof and neither party has that now, nor will they when the new Congress convenes. But, wait! It gets better. In 1892, the United States Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Ballin, that on the first day of a new Congress, Senate rules can be changed by a simple majority. This is why my high school golf coach made us learn the USGA rule book cover to cover because if you know the rules, you can use them to your benefit.
Senator Reid is rallying the troops. All he needs is 51 Senators to vote for reform the first day of the new Congress. And, let’s not forget that back in 2005, the tables were turned and the Republicans were the ones rallying for filibuster reform.
Reform is necessary and, frankly, if you want to filibuster, you should actually be required to filibuster! I don’t care if you’re discussing the bill or reading fairy tales, you must hold the floor to filibuster. Many people say the filibuster should be eliminated completely, that it’s nothing more than gridlock. But, gridlock is good because it’s the tool of the minority. You must, however, use that tool; not simply threaten to do so. But, that’s a discussion for another day.