AFL-CIO Endorses Senate Reform


I think the odds are that John Boehner will be Speaker of the House in January and the question of Senate procedure will be (temporarily) moot in the eyes of most advocacy groups, but I believe in reform anyway so it’s good to see this from the AFL-CO:

Many Americans believe that the Senate has always lived with filibusters and that the current Senate logjam has its roots in 200 years of Senate history. In fact, during the entire 19th Century, there were only 23 filibusters. From 1917 (when the Senate first adopted cloture rules for cutting off debate) until 1969, there was an average of less than one filibuster a year. In the 1970 and 1980s, the annual average rose to around 17. It was not until the Republicans lost control following the 2006 election that the number of filibusters exploded (as measured by the number of “cloture” motions that the minority forced). In the 110th Congress, there were 139 cloture motions, the record by far, and in 2008 alone one out of every five Senate votes was a cloture vote. In the current 111th Congress, coinciding with the arrival of the Obama Administration, there already have been 113 to date. Today, holds and filibuster threats have become such a routine matter that no bill or nomination can move forward until the Majority Leader can demonstrate that there are 60 votes – a super-majority – for passage. […]

The AFL-CIO calls on the Senate, when it convenes for the 112th Congress, to reform and democratize its procedures and rules. In the meantime, we will educate our members about the abuse of the filibuster and other Senate rules, join with other like-minded organizations in an effort to rally support for the reform of these rules, and use our political program to seek support from Senate candidates for a change in these rules.

Good to see.