Filibuster reform is just fine

The OlympianNovember 26, 2013 

From left, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Ill., defend the Senate Democrats’ vote to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Reid complained that Republican gridlock has prevented the chamber from functioning, while his GOP counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says Democrats are using a power play to distract voters from the president's troubled health care law.

AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

Republicans can holler all they want about a rule change adopted by the U.S. Senate last week, but it was their own obstructionist tactics that finally ended misuse of the time-honored filibuster. Perhaps now the Senate can actually get some work done.

A simple majority of senators can now approve presidential appointments to Cabinet posts and the federal judiciary. This reform was long past due.

Republicans have filibustered President Obama’s executive appointments 16 times, something than had previously been done only 20 times in the past 60 years. Republicans have blocked one appointment, for the little-known Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for more than two years.

None of these objections had anything to do with the nominee’s qualifications. It was about denying Obama the presidential prerogative to choose his own team. News flash: It’s called an election.

The filibuster was doomed, of course, as soon as it no longer meant senators had to stand on their feet and continue speaking night and day. Of late, a single senator could trigger a 60-vote supermajority by merely uttering the threat of a filibuster.

The Senate has been stalled for too long. It was past time for filibuster reform.

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