Exclusive: Major Unions And Progressive Groups Create Filibuster Reform Coalition

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Major unions, environmental advocates and other progressive groups are reconvening an advocacy coalition to build public support for reforming the Senate filibuster rules and pressure members to follow suit at the beginning of the 113th Congress, TPM has learned.

“Facing unparalleled challenges–a languid economic recovery, crushing debt, and threats at home and abroad–the country cannot afford another two years of inaction fostered by outmoded and broken legislative institutions,” reads a statement from the newly reconvened Fix the Senate Now coalition, provided to TPM. “In recent decades, Senate conventions have devolved to remove incentives for bipartisan comity, collegiality, and compromise. Whereas Senators once resorted to filibustering only in rare and exceptional instances of intense opposition, rampant obstruction has now transformed standard operating procedure.”The Fix the Senate coalition includes the Alliance for Justice, the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America, the Sierra Club, and the United Auto Workers.

Their renewed efforts come as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and a newly re-elected Senate Democratic majority have announced their intention to change Senate rules to make the GOP’s obstruction efforts more transparent, and speed up the pace of legislative business in the upper chamber.

The same coalition advocated similar reforms in 2010 and 2011 when a group of new Democratic senators led an earlier effort to change the Senate’s filibuster rules. But that push came just as Democrats had been dealt a crushing defeat in midterm elections and lacked the support of Democratic leaders, who have since changed heart about the need to adjust the rules.

The prospects of successfully weakening the minority’s power in the Senate is much brighter now.

“Today, majority rule in the Senate is the exception, not the rule,” the statement says. “We believe that common sense reforms will end routine and reflexive obstruction and will ensure that the Senate will once again be able to address the critical issues facing our country.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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