ACTION ALERT: We are 2 senators away from filibuster reform; call today

Filibuster reform is critical to making the Senate a functioning body again. There are two moves toward reforming the filibuster rule — the requirement that 60 or more votes are needed to do most actions. One is a strong move, led by Sens. Jeff Merkley (OR) and Tom Udall (NM).

The other is a weak move — a counter-reform move if you will — led by Sens. Levin (MI) and McCain (AZ). (Yes, Carl Levin has joined with John McCain to kill real filibuster reform by offering a alternate phony-reform proposal. Remember that name — Carl Levin is the enemy of filibuster reform.)

The Merkley-Udall proposal is not a complete solution, but it has teeth, unlike the Levin-McCain fake-solution. The vote on this will occur within days — Reid is delaying it, presumably to allow lobbying to get the last few pro-reform votes. Here’s how you can help. It’s a majority vote: 50 Yeas plus the Vice-President can pass the rule change.

According to Merkley and Udall, they have 48 Democratic/Independent votes plus Biden’s promise to vote Yes as well. It’s very close. The seven Democratic senators listed below are the last to hold out. We need at least two of them to say Yes.

Please help by making calls for filibuster reform

us capitol building inauguration filibuster reform

Capitol via Shutterstock.

Please call the senators listed below today, and if you can, every day until the vote is held. The Senate needs filibuster reform to be a functioning body.

One of these senators is a self-branded “progressive” — that’s you, Barbara Boxer. You could ask her — What on earth is she thinking? Maybe she could be a progressive when a real one is needed. This  is a crucial vote.

In addition, two of the senators below are in the freshman class — Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Mazie Hirono (HI). Ask them directly — Do you really want to start your senatorial careers with this reputation? It’s really hard to undo a first impression, and this is a terrible one for a Democrat to make. Heitkamp and Hirono will stay on my radar a long time if they don’t change their minds.

But don’t limit yourself — Leahy’s on that list; perhaps your senator is as well. Do you live in California? Both of yours are on the potential-perp list. Please do call.

Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651
Boxer Barbara CA D (202) 224-3553
Feinstein Dianne CA D (202) 224-3841
Heitkamp Heidi ND D (202) 224-2043
Hirono Mazie HI D (202) 224-6361
Leahy Patrick VT D (202) 224-4242
Reed Jack RI D (202) 224-4642

Returning the Senate to majority rule has huge implications. It’s a high-leverage item. Please help — and thanks!

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • Rational

    What is Sen. Brian Shaitz D-Hi ( appointment to fill Danny Inouye’s seat ) position?
    Phone #?

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    These changes can only be made at a beginning of a congressional session every two years. Of course, the Republicans could change it back if they regained the Senate, but at that point they would be hurting themselves.

  • curt

    here is the problem. if we pass this filibuster reform with the simple majority instead of the 67 needed to change rules, then when repubs take over the senate they will be able to do the same thing. that spells trouble. we have to look at the big picture and not just the short term

  • Sweetie

    What is the problem with having a filibuster? Is it that it slows down the plutocratic corporatist agenda that’s been with us since Reagan—making for a bit more theater than usual?

    Orlov:

    “No matter who US politicians claim to be, all of them exhibit two powerful but conflicting tendencies: to bureaucratize and to privatize. The bureaucratizers among them wants to grow public bureaucracies, creating political machines and systems of patronage, and providing ample scope for pork barrel politics. The privatizers among them want to dismantle public institutions and privatize everything under the sun in order to shrink the public realm and to enhance the concentration of private wealth. These two imperatives are at odds, not for any ideological reason, but simply because there is an inevitable tug of war between them: big public bureaucracies expand the public realm, but privatizing the public realm shrinks it. All American politicians find it in their interest to both expand government and to privatize its functions. When the US economy is growing nicely, the two factions find that their wishes are granted, and they go merrily along enlarging federal and local bureaucracies while assisting in the concentration of wealth, making everyone they care about happy—everyone except the population, which is being steadily driven into bankruptcy and destitution, but that’s just a problem of perception, easily remedied by an army of political consultants come election time.

    This public-private feeding frenzy is called “bipartisanship.”

    When the economy isn’t growing, the two factions are forced to square off against each other in what amounts to a zero-sum game. This is called ‘gridlock.’ Currently the US economy is growing at such an anemic rate that unemployment (defined as “percentage of working-age able-bodied people without a job”—not the fake “official” number) is continuing to increase. Even this anemic growth is likely to be corrected down in the coming months. The future glows even dimmer: a good leading indicator of economic growth happens to be “discretionary consumer durable goods spending,” and the good people who have had their eye on it tell us that it has been trending downward for a few months now, and portends a GDP growth rate of around negative six percent, which, if it holds at that level and does not deteriorate further, gives the US economy a half-life of just under a dozen years. A continuously shrinking economy assures continuous gridlock.

    Although most if not all political commentators are on record saying that gridlock a bad thing, it is hard to find a reason to agree with them.

    Given the country’s predicament, which of the two fruits would we wish this putatively beneficial bipartisanship to yield: the gift of more federal and local bureaucracy or the gift of more privatization and concentration of private wealth in fewer and fewer hands? Let us suppose that you are a big fan of government bureaucracy; how, then, do you expect the country to be able to afford to feed all these bureaucrats when the economy—and therefore the tax base— is shrinking? And supposing that you idolize the ultra-rich and expect to become one yourself as soon as you win the lottery; how, then, do you expect your riches to amount to anything, seeing as the vast majority of this private wealth is positioned ‘long paper’—currency, stocks, bonds, intellectual property or some more exotic or even toxic pieces of paper with letters and numbers printed on them. All of these financial instruments are bets on the future good performance of the US economy, which, by the way, is shrinking. A continuously shrinking economy is a large incinerator of paper wealth, and all these paper instruments are in the end just ephemera or memorabilia, like tickets to a show that’s been cancelled. The bureaucratic contingent and the wealthy-on-paper contingent have enough paper between the two of them to feed the fire for a little while longer, but does the country really need a bipartisan effort increase this rate of combustion? If you enjoy being part of this system, and want to show your appreciation for it by casting a vote, you might as well vote for gridlock, because doing so is more likely to prolong your pleasure.”

  • Pathfinder

    According to the person I spoke to in Senator Leahy’s office “The Senator wants to make sure he completely understands what is in each proposal. ” I can see I am going to have to keep calling and writing.

  • http://twitter.com/BillFromDover Bill from Dover

    Carl Levin and John McCain’s bill is nothing more than a gentleman’s agreement to act nice ( Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly).

    Show me one gentleman in the republican senate!

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  • MyrddinWilt

    I am sure both will support eliminating the filibuster in a heartbeat the minute it would suit the GOP.

    Not a single principle amongst the two of them.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Seems rather odd that either would be the holdout.

    But this is an issue on which I would like to see the whole Dem caucus vote in favor and so I guess would Reid. It would make sense to make some effort to demonstrate an effort was made to meet the GOP halfway. So I would not write off Levin’s vote either.

    If either Boxer or Feinstein do the wrong thing they should be primaried. Its not like the GOP is likely to win the seat. But I suspect this has more to do with Reid’s tactics.

    At the end of the day, Wobblechops McConnell wants the filibuster to go because the GOP is all about extracting rent from their supporters. The less they can do for them while having a plausible excuse for the failure, the more rent they can extract.

    Getting rid of the filibuster means more cash in the GOP’s back pocket because they can tell their investors that they can do more for them if they get a senate majority. And don’t think that they don’t skim 10% off their campaign contribs by having the advertising placed through their wife and other rackets.

  • SomeOldLady

    Sen. Boxer is a fake progressive, IMO. She votes/acts like a progressive when it doesn’t matter and then votes corporatist the rest of the time. I just made my call to her, but not expecting it will do much. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Ford Prefect

    Given the way Senate rules-making works, it’s sad that Democrats have to be somehow convinced–by little people, no less–that reversing the rule Reid et al gave the Thugs in 2009 is somehow the right thing to do. So here’s one meme I don’t want to see if the Senate Dems live up to their Quisling image: the notion that the little people weren’t sufficiently agitated to somehow magically make the obviously needed reform happen. If it doesn’t happen, it will be a cowardly poke in the eye of the broader public and little else.

    Living in SoCal, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Feinstein were to vote against filibuster “reform” (remember, Reid’s gimme to the GOP was a “reform” as well) just to spite the proles. She rolls that way, don’t you know, as evidenced by her fascistic diatribe in support of FISA without reforms.

    At least Boxer is fairly certain to vote the right way, so there’s that.

  • AggieCowboy

    My Senators are the extreme obstructionist bigots, Inhofe and Coburn. Enough said.

  • madcap

    After a phone call, I believe that you have the 2 California senators. I would encourage anyone living in CA to give them a call.

  • http://thebrainpolice.blogspot.com microdot

    Man, I am reposting this piece and I will give you the credit you deserve! Thanks!

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