Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t interested in compromising–he’s interested in real change that includes halting the TEApublican obstructionist agenda and working for the American people (you know, like we pay Congress for?). In a letter sent out to his constituents, Senator Sanders explains why he didn’t get in line with Democrats and vote for the joke of a filibuster reform bill Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell negotiated.
January 24, 2013
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
This country faces major crises in terms of the economy and unemployment, the deficit, global warming, health care, campaign finance reform, education and a crumbling infrastructure – to name a few. In my view, none of these problems will be effectively addressed so long as one senator can demand 60 votes to pass legislation. The rule changes adopted today are a step forward in making the operations of the Senate more efficient and expeditious. They are not enough.
Most Americans grew up believing that in America the majority rules. That is not the case in the Senate. For many years now, especially since President Obama has been in office, it has taken 60 votes to pass any significant piece of legislation. When Lyndon Johnson was majority leader in the 1950s, he filed cloture to end a filibuster only once. Majority Leader Reid has filed cloture 390 times.
The Senate is not the House and the minority party must be treated with respect and given the opportunity to offer amendments and make their case in opposition.
A minority must not, however, be allowed to permanently obstruct the wishes of the majority. That is not democracy. That is a perversion of democracy.
In my view, if a senator or a group of senators are strenuously opposed to legislation they have the right and duty to come to the floor and, for as long as they want, engage in a talking filibuster by explaining to the American people the reasons for their objection. They should not, however, continue to have the right to abuse arcane Senate rules to block a majority of senators from acting on behalf of the American people.