Sunday, January 2, 2011

The New 50

Walter Mondale "Resolved: Fix the Filibuster" examines the one rule that more than any other has changed the face of our democracy. Rule 22 was intended to protect the right to effective debate, not to control which matters could be approved by a majority vote of the senate. As we have seen, 60 has become the new 50.

Why not amend Rule 22 to meet it's original intention? Do not allow procedure to dictate policy. Create or enforce rules that mandate that each Senator be given an effective opportunity to be heard, on the merits, of any legislation that comes before the body. But be clear that the argument must be relevant, and must be concise. Once the protections afforded each and every member of this body to wax eloquent have been satisfied, a majority of those in attendance should hold the right and power to cut off debate and "force" a vote on proposed legislation.

There was much discussion in the recent lame duck session of the President being held hostage by the manipulation and abuse of Rule 22. The vote on the extension of the Bush era tax cuts, unnecessarily draining many billions from the Federal coffers in exchange for a loosening of the Republican death hold on Rule 22, provided yet one more compelling reason to end this charade.

Let it not be said that the United States has forever become tethered to rule by the "supermajority". Allow cloture to take it's intended place and hereinafter demand that 50 becomes the new 50.

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