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Clovis News Journal: Q&A: Sen. Udall talks filibuster changes

The filibuster is a tool of the minority party in the Senate, by which a minority tries to prevent a bill destined for passage from getting to a vote. New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall wants to change what he considers abuses to the system.

A bill put forth by Udall and Senators. Jeff Merkley and Tom Harkin would modify the filibuster and how often the minority could use the tool.

Q: When most people think filibuster, they think of Jimmy Stewart talking until he passes out, or Strom Thurmond reading historical documents when the Civil Rights Act was debated. What has a filibuster been during the four years you’ve spent in the Senate?

A: It’s nothing like the “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” filibuster. It’s rare that a senator would go to the floor and have a principled debate about an issue and hold the floor for a long period of time. What happens now is a secret silent filibuster that clogs up the whole institution and prevents it from doing anything. We aren’t getting the proper attention we should get with the budget slowdown, the appropriations slowdown and the failure to act on bills that impact New Mexico.