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Bellingham Herald: It’s past time to overhaul the filibuster rule

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should not back down on reforming the filibuster rule, one of the primary culprits in recent Congressional gridlock.

Two senators have proposed a sensible rule change that Reid should put to a first-day vote. A reform plan crafted by senators Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon would require at least 10 senators to file a filibuster petition and at least one member to speak continuously on the Senate floor, a la Jimmy Stewart.

Because Republicans have abused filibusters simply to prevent debate on a bill or presidential nomination, not just to block a vote as was the norm, the Merkley-Udall proposal goes further. It would restrict filibusters to actual votes.

Any filibuster rule change has rankled Republicans, who say it would destroy bipartisan cooperation in the Senate (an oxymoron, to be sure), and also some Democrats, who fear losing majority status in the 2014 elections and may want to use the filibuster themselves.