The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 11, 2013

Deal won’t solve problem

NORMAN — Senate leaders last week reached a tentative deal to limit the filibuster — a tool that has been abused to the point of creating gridlock in Congress.

It’s difficult to get excited about the compromise reached between Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his counterpart, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but it is at least a step toward reform.

The deal will only bar filibusters on motions to begin debating bills and only if members of each party are guaranteed the opportunity to offer at least two amendments. Some argue all the deal really does is speed up the process of breaking a filibuster with 60 votes. That could actually be counterproductive by legitimizing the idea that a 60-vote threshold is needed to pass any legislation in the Senate.

Many of those desiring real reform had hoped a deal would return filibustering to what it once was, when minority members who opposed a bill could take to the floor and talk for as long as they wanted. (Now, one senator can anonymously halt legislation and no one has to take to the floor.)

Some reformers had hoped Reid would use the so-called “nuclear option” and override GOP opposition by changing the filibuster rule on a simple majority vote. But Reid refused to take that drastic approach.

The filibuster was intended to give the minority a chance to weigh in on legislation without being ignored by the majority. It was never intended to require a super-majority vote on all legislation.

— The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

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