On Wednesday the new Congress will be sworn in. Every two years the Senate has the opportunity to reform the way it does business. Some 54 senators, of both parties, have signed on the Senate Rules reform. It is my understanding that has to be done on the day that the Senate reorganizes, or at least the process needs to start. Here is what is being proposed.
1. Changing the rules on Cloture. This is the vote that is taken to end debate on an issue. At the present time 60 votes are needed to end cloture, more than a simple majority. The plan is to change this to 51 votes, a simple majority to move the business of the people along.
2. Reform of the filibuster. According the present Senate rules any senator can filibuster
(Literally talking out a bill) any piece of legislation. Back in the days of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, a Senator had to remain on the floor of the Senate and keep speaking as long as the filibuster would continue. If the Senator sat down or stopped talking, for a specified period of time, then the filibuster would end. At present these rules have been changed and one does not need to remain on the floor. A Senator can call a filibuster and without 60 votes the legislation will not advance. This is not what the framers had in mind. The rules reform would make this a speaking filibuster the way it should be. A Senator should have to take to the floor and explain to the American people why he or she is doing this. The most recent example of a true filibuster was the 8.5 hours that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont stayed on the floor of the Senate speaking about the tax bill that was before the Senate.
This change is called the Constitutional Option and again it has bi partisan support.
Remember these folks work for us and we need to tell them what we want done. If you agree with this change or if you disagree with this change, contact your Senators and let them know how you feel. It take less than 5 minutes to make your voice heard on this issue.