I haven't been talking about it, but I've been following what's been going on with the filibuster in the Senate for a long time. And frankly, it's been a mess for a long time.

The filibuster is supposed to be a measure to restrain extreme actions, and in that light, I'm in favor of it. But the GOP has abused it in hitherto unseen proportions, to the point that it's being used to stop governing (yes, all those nominations unfilled do represent a serious problem. And despite the noise made about unfilled nominations under Bush, he got almost everything he wanted. Obama, on the other hand, has fewer nominations filled now than Bush did after two years in office). It begs the question, how can the government run with no one to make decisions?

Because of that unprecedented level of obstructionism (and yes, it is unprecedented, despite what some might say), it's been depressing watching Reid refuse and refuse to do anything about it. Yes, GOP failure to follow through on negotiated deals is a problem, but hardly a surprising one.

So it's good to see at least some serious recognition of the problem; maybe something will be done.

I think what's needed to end the abuse, but preserve the power, is something to the effect of limiting the number of filibusters available in a legislative session. Of course, as the House has shown, something can be voted on as many times as desired, so a straight numerical limit can't really work. And man, would things get bogged down if the debate turned into "is this the same bill as last time?", so allowing reintroductions of bills to not count against the limit wouldn't work either.

But Sen Udall had some ideas for improving things, which I liked. Disallowing filibusters on motions to proceed to discussion (wait, we can't stop discussion on whether to discuss something?) is a good idea. Putting the onus on those wishing to continue debate rather than those wishing to end discussion is another good idea. Another one that just occurred to me would be disallowing any lawmakers from entering the chamber once a filibuster starts. That makes it an endurance challenge for everyone. Another Udall suggestion would be to force anyone wanting a filibuster to make their motion, and reasons, public, to force accountability. There's also a limit on post-cloture debate for non-Supreme Court nominees. The last suggestion I have trouble summarizing, so here it is from Merkley's web site:
Eliminate the Filibuster on Motions to Establish a Conference Committee: Reduces the steps to establish a conference committee from three motions to one, and limits debate the consolidated motion to 2 hours

Let's hope that, at the minimum, those limits can be put in. That still won't be close to a panacea, but it would help.

And McCain's offer seems pretty ridiculous. Whatever happened to 'elections have consequences'? Especially considering that Obama's majority is larger than Bush's was.

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