January 05, 2011


You know how everyone is always saying that "the Senate is broken"? The abuse of the filibuster is one of the main reasons why. Moveon.org has launched a campaign for us to call our senators to limit the filibuster's use and stop slowing government down. If you're a New Yorker, you may also want to thank your senators for voting to help 9/11 responders at the 11th hour of the old Senate. If you aren't in New York, it's even more important to free up the Senate to actually do it's work. We're kinda hurtin' out here!

From moveon.org:

Dear MoveOn member,

Remember when Jimmy Stewart takes the Senate floor in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and refuses to cede it until he's made his point? That's how filibusters are supposed to work: A principled senator would stand up in the light of day to stop the majority from doing something bad.

These days, though, filibusters—the procedure that the minority party in the Senate uses to block a majority favored bill—don't work that way. All it takes is one anonymous objection from a single senator to trigger a filibuster. In fact, in the 1960s, only 8% of all bills were blocked by a filibuster—but since 2006 that has ballooned to more than 70%.1

Now, Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley are pushing for rule changes that would end the abuse of the filibuster. Those changes could come up for a vote as soon as this week. So we need to speak out right away to show how important this reform is to voters at home. Can you call Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand and ask them to support rules reform to end abuse of the filibuster?

Here's where to call:

Senator Charles Schumer
Phone: 202-224-6542

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Phone: 202-224-4451

Then, please report your call by clicking here:


This vote is not about ending the filibuster or crushing minority rights in government. It's about returning our government to a more democratic and transparent process.

In the last two Congressional terms Democrats have had to overcome more than 275 filibusters—the most in history.2

Here's what the New York Times says is on the table for rules reform:3

"No lazy filibusters. At least 10 senators would have to file a filibuster petition, and members would have to speak continuously on the floor to keep the filibuster going. To ensure the seriousness of the attempt, the requirements would grow each day: five senators would have to hold the floor for the first day, 10 the second day, etc. Those conducting the filibuster would thus have to make their case on camera. (A cloture vote of 60 senators would still be required to break the blockade.)

"Fewer bites of the apple. Republicans now routinely filibuster not only the final vote on a bill, but the initial motion to even debate it, as well as amendments and votes on conference committees. Breaking each of these filibusters adds days or weeks to every bill. The plan would limit filibusters to the actual passage of a bill.

"Minority amendments. Harry Reid, the majority leader, frequently prevents Republicans from offering amendments because he fears they will lead to more opportunities to filibuster. Republicans say they mount filibusters because they are precluded from offering amendments. This situation would be resolved by allowing a fixed number of amendments from each side on a bill, followed by a fixed amount of debate on each one."

Please call Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand today and ask them to support rules reform to end abuse of the filibuster.