I’ve written before about how the current Senate rules are paralyzing and likely unconstitutional. Specifically, because invoking the filibuster no longer requires more than a statement of intent to effectively block most any legislation, thereby creating an environment whereby the legislative branch of our government is prevented by its own rules from accomplishing pretty much anything substantive. And no, this is not a partisan issue. It is currently hampering Democrats, but as I previously pointed out, Republicans were hog-tied by the same thing during the Clinton and Bush years.
Senator Tom Udall is now proposing to finally take a stand. He believes there is ample precedent for a freshly seated Senate to revisit and remake its rules by simple majority, and is promising to do so when the new Senate convenes in 2011. That’s another year of an inert Congress, but at least it is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I sincerely hope he succeeds in this effort, regardless of the outcome of the 2010 elections.
The graph below is more than a little telling. Note that the current rules allowing a filibuster to be just a declaration, rather than requiring actual debate to happen, were adopted in 1975. The result has been an explosion of its use across both parties to constipate the Congress. I’m stymied that anyone could claim this has been a good thing; I’m confounded that anyone could claim this was the intent of the Constitution or of the Founding Fathers; I’m borderline apoplectic that this is a self-imposed impediment.
As the old saw goes, “Doctor! Doctor! It hurts when I do this…”