Senator Chuck Schumer has made clear that he’s willing to get rid of the filibuster, doing away with a tool that marks the U.S Senate as an institution distinct from the U.S. House. Congressional Institute President Mark Strand wrote an oped for the Philadelphia Inquirer that appeared as part of a pro/con opinion page on whether the filibuster should be eliminated. Strand, who served as former Senator Jim Talent’s chief of staff, took the position that reforming the filibuster would better serve the Senate than nuking it.
Among the reforms Strand suggests are bringing back the filibuster as it was meant to be – a “talk-a-thon.” He proposes making it more difficult to conduct a filibuster by eliminating the two-track system under which the Senate conducts its business. He writes, “Senators would still use the filibuster, but they would use it much more sparingly, especially at the prospect of having to talk themselves hoarse.”
He also recommends reforming the motion to proceed:
An important reform would be to make the motion to proceed nondebatable in all circumstances or changing the rules to impose a time limit on this debate. This would allow a simple majority to bring up bills for consideration, and Senators would still have the ability to filibuster the actual bill once debate begins.
You can read the full oped here. (It’s the second piece as you scroll down the page.) Without reforms, the filibuster may be doomed. But, as Strand writes, “Reforming the filibuster would strengthen the Senate by creating an environment of comity that will never be achieved through nuking minority rights.”
The Congressional Institute is a nonprofit organization that looks at the operations of Congress and researches and proposes reforms to make Congress effective.
Read the oped here.