Corvallis Gazette-Times: As I See It: Let’s reform the filibuster

The favored form of filibuster is the silent filibuster. A senator simply objects to a request by another senator to hold a vote on an issue before the body. At that point, the Senate is paralyzed for two days before a “cloture vote” can be held to close debate, and that vote succeeds only if a super-majority of 60 vote in favor.

The use of this secret, silent filibuster has expanded dramatically in recent decades. In the six years that Lyndon B. Johnson was majority leader, he dealt with one filibuster. In the six years Harry Reid has been majority leader, he has faced 391!

Moreover, these filibuster tactics waste so much time — each one eats up a week of the Senate’s time even if a cloture vote is successful — that many issues never get to the floor.

This dysfunction must stop. To accomplish that I’m proposing a plan in partnership with Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.

This plan has several parts, but the key is the “talking filibuster.” This would require that if 41 or more senators vote to continue debate, there will be a debate. If there’s not at least one senator on the floor to talk, a simple majority vote would be in order.