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Reid Vows Filibuster Reform « The Washington Independent

Ezra Klein at The Washington Post reports:

“The filibuster has been abused,” Sen. Harry Reid said at a reporter’s briefing this afternoon. “But next Congress, we are going to take a look at it. And we’re going to make some changes in it.”

Reid didn’t say precisely what he’s got in mind for a fix, Klein reports, nor has the Senate majority leader said how he plans to get such a controversial measure through the upper chamber. (Ironically, it’s sure to be filibustered.) But there’s a growing sense that something has to change if Congress hopes to tackle the most pressing problems of the day, which currently include a health coverage crisis, a jobs crisis, a climate change crisis, a debt crisis, a deficit spending crisis and a housing crisis, to name just a few.

There are bills out there addressing all of these things, but when it requires a full month to pass a bill that literally every member of the Senate supports, as was the case last fall surrounding unemployment insurance, then there’s no way for the chamber to enact the more controversial reforms with anywhere near the urgency that these things demand. (The House has passed 290 bills in the last 14 months that are now sitting idle in the Senate.)

There are those who argue that the snail’s pace of the Senate was the conscious design of the founding fathers. (George Will penned such an argument just a few weeks ago.) And they have a point. You wouldn’t want Congress passing reactionary legislation to every emotional event that ever befell the country.

But again, when even bills with unanimous support are tied up for weeks on end simply to make a political statement, then the chamber has lost its ability to govern. It’ll be interesting to see what Reid and the Democrats intend to offer by way of reform.

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