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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 1, 2010

HARKIN TO INTRODUCE ANTI-FILIBUSTER BILL

The Hlll - Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) intends to introduce legislation that would take away the minority's power to filibuster legislation. . . Under Harkin's bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), 60 votes would still be necessary to cut off debate on an initial procedural motion. If senators failed to reach 60 votes, a second vote would be possible two days later that would require only 57 votes to cut off debate. If that also failed, a third vote two days after that would require 54 votes to end debate. A fourth vote after two more days would require just 51 votes.

Reid shot down the option in his 2008 book The Good Fight. Recalling the "nuclear option" debate in 2005, Reid compared lowering the filibuster threshold to "opening Pandora's Box."

"It was just a matter of time before a Senate leader who couldn't get his way on something moved to eliminate the filibuster for regular business," Reid wrote. "And that, simply put, would be the end of the United States Senate . A filibuster is the minority's way of not allowing the majority to shut off debate, and without robust debate, the Senate is crippled."

Even Obama, referencing the 2005 debate, is on record opposing the idea during a speech he gave as a senator that year.

"The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster - if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate - then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse," Obama said in the April 2005 speech in Washington.


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