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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

March 25, 2010

LAUTENBERG PROPOSES 'MR SMITH' FILIBUSTER RULE

POLITICO - Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) wants senators who block bills to have their own "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" moment - whether they want to actually filibuster or not.

Lautenberg introduced a bill Tuesday that would require senators who block legislation to be present in the Senate chamber - or else the majority leader could call for "an immediate vote" on the bill in question.

"If a Senator wants to delay our work in the Senate, then that Senator must show up on the floor and debate," Lautenberg said in a statement. "If any of my colleagues feel strongly enough about a bill or nomination to stop all work in the Senate, they should have no problem standing on the Senate floor to explain their opposition to the American public."

Last year, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) determined that the Senate's cloture rule - which cuts off a filibuster - did not actually require a senator to talk for an indefinite period of time. He released a memo stating that a member "can be forced to sit on the [Senate] floor to keep us from voting on that legislation for a finite period of time according to existing rules but he/she can't be forced to keep talking for an indefinite period of time."

In the previous congressional session, Republicans forced a record 112 cloture votes to break filibusters. And in this session, which began in 2009, the minority party has already forced 49 cloture votes.

Lautenberg's legislation would alter those rules.


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