Filibuster Reform vote Jan. 22: Keep calling senators

January 22, 2013 is projected as Senate Filibuster Reform Vote day. Dave Weigel (my emphasis):

On Wednesday morning, most business reporters confirmed Barack Obama’s next choice to lead the Treasury Department: White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew. Within hours, the same reporters got a statement from Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Budget Committee and a man who’ll have some say over whether Lew gets the job.

“Jack Lew must never be secretary of the Treasury,” Sessions said. … Sessions’ outrage was manna to an unexpected group of people: Democrats. For months, a group of freshman Democratic senators have been trying to nail down 51 votes to reform the filibuster. On Jan. 22, when the Senate votes on this congressional session’s rulebook, they’ll need to keep that group together. Every time a Republican threatens an Obama nominee, their job gets easier….

Last week, [Senator] Merkley joined New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin to officially roll out the possible filibuster changes. They would, if successful, eliminate the filibuster on the motions to proceed to votes, reduce debate on nominees from 30 hours to two hours (after the filibuster was broken), make it easier to establish a conference committee, and—most importantly to them—require anyone who filibusters to actually stand up and talk for as long as he or she wants to block the vote.

US Capitol House Senate congress

US Capitol via Shutterstock

This is my reminder — you can help hold that group together. We need strong filibuster reform, not a weaker version. Call your senator if you believe in this (click to find the phone number).

In addition, call these senators — they are the Democrats flirting with “well, I don’t really know” when the last public list of supporters was announced:

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

As of last report, these are the Democratic waverers (and shame on them). Please make the calls, now and daily (if you can) until January 22.

Thanks,

GP

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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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  • Worden Report

    Merely making a filibuster more difficult is not the same thing as getting rid of it. The real question is whether it protects residual state sovereignty or is merely a partisan obstructionist ploy. If the latter, the procedural device should be expunged from the U.S. Senate.
    At the Worden Report at http://thewordenreport.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-us-senates-filibuster-minoritys-bomb.html, I argue that Reid is likely to compromise away getting rid of the filibuster. The status quo has too much leverage in the U.S system, including the U.S. Senate.

  • infantofmontpelier

    Leahy always is the last to stand up and I believe he will, but call him if you live in VT.
    Burlington #s:
    802 863-2525
    1-800-642-3193

  • Sweetie

    “US voters are easy marks for political tricksters, and it is probably something that just can’t be helped. The neatest trick is getting them to vote against their class interest. A few generations ago we had the ‘Reagan democrats': working class people who voted—not once but twice!—for someone who was anti-union and generally anti-labor. And now, a few decades of political progress later, we have the ‘Teabaggers': middle-aged obese and sickly white people who are about to cast their vote for someone who will take away their government-provided electric scooters and their very expensive medical care. When the political tricksters fail and the voting public actually gets a little bit upset, it is time to send in the clowns, and so most recently a couple of late-night TV comedians have joined the fray, holding a massive rally to ‘restore sanity.’

    But it is all a waste of time: the Losers may vote or not vote, they may flap their gums at the breakfast table or twinkle their toes up and down the street holding signs, where they may take part in peaceful protest or get teargassed and shot with rubber bullets—the result will be exactly the same. 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.’ … 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.”

    — Dmitri Orlov, 2010

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