Monday, November 5, 2012

What’s at stake tomorrow besides the presidential election: Filibuster reform

Tomorrow, all eyes will be glued, understandably, to the presidential election. But the battle for control of the Senate is closely contested as well. And the results of that battle will decide the fate of one issue in particular, which goes to the very heart of our government’s ability to function over the next four years: filibuster reform.

At least 10 Senate candidates in competitive races across the country have pledged support for filibuster reform, according to Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, one of the Senate’s leading sponsors of filibuster reform. Here’s the list of nine Democrats:

  • Tammy Baldwin (WI)
  • Richard Carmona (AZ)
  • Martin Heinrich (NM)
  • Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
  • Mazie Hirono (HI)
  • Tim Kaine (VA)
  • Bob Kerrey (NE)
  • Chris Murphy (CT)
  • Elizabeth Warren (MA)

Angus King, an independent Senate candidate who is leading the polls in Maine, has also said Senate reform is his “principal issue.” And if the Democrats retain control of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that not only will he seek filibuster reform in the next session, but that President Obama, if re-elected, would support it as well.

Why does this matter? Since the Democrats took control of the Senate in 2007, the average number of cloture motions filed each year has more than doubled. Of the total 1,371 times cloture motions have been filed since 1917, 385 of those — or just over 28 percent — have come just since 2007.

Wednesday’s headline will be the outcome of the presidential election, of course. But the battle for control of the Senate could be just as consequential — if not more so — for our government’s basic ability to get things done over the next four years.

Notes

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