Not even a month into the Congress and Elizabeth Warren has already been disappointed by her peers.
The freshman Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard law professor went to Washington as a reformer. And she promised that her first task as Senator would be to take the lead on changing Congress’ filibuster rules.
Check out this letter she wrote about it back in November (via HuffPo):
Remember Jimmy Stewart’s classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? I love that movie. That’s what most of us think of when we hear the word “filibuster” — a single passionate senator speaking for hours about legislation they fiercely oppose until they literally collapse with exhaustion.
But that’s not what today’s filibuster looks like. In reality, any senator can make a phone call, say they object to a bill, then head out for the night. In the meantime, business comes to a screeching halt.
Senate Republicans have used this type of filibuster 380 times since the Democrats took over the majority in 2006. We’ve seen filibusters to block judicial nominations, jobs bills, political transparency, ending Big Oil subsidies — you name it, there’s been a filibuster.
We’ve seen filibusters of bills and nominations that ultimately passed with 90 or more votes. Why filibuster something that has that kind of support? Just to slow down the process and keep the Senate from working.
This week, Warren had her chance to change the filibuster process so that anyone using it would have to speak for hours and hours instead of just threatening to do so. It didn’t quite work (from the AP):
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she’s disappointed Senate leaders weren’t able to come up with tougher changes to the filibuster rule that allows minority parties to bottle up legislation…
Warren said in a statement Thursday that she’s disappointed the changes aren’t more extensive, but added that “some change is better than no change at all.”
What actually happened, according to WaPo, was that the Senate cut the filibuster vote before a bill’s “motion to proceed” when Congress begins considering the legislation.
On to the next one, Liz.
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