In his State of the Union address on Wednesday night, President Obama is supposed to talk about ways to change the way business is done in Washington.
Here’s one idea: get rid of the filibuster. It’s undemocratic, and it invites gross, mindless partisanship.
As designed, the filibuster was to be reserved for extreme cases. It was the exception, not the rule. The Senator exercising it had to actually speak from the podium the entire time of the filibuster, until he ran out of gas. And the Senate could conduct no other business while the filibuster was underway.
No wonder it was so rarely used. Only 35 times in the last 70 years.
Until last year. Under Mitch McConnell. Taking advantage of a change in rules which no longer shut down the Senate while a filibuster was underway, and no longer required Senators to speak the whole time, Republicans made the filibuster the rule, not the exception. They demanded a filibuster on every vote, invoking it a total of 111 times in just one year.
This is clearly an abuse of Senate rules, which says passage of legislation requires 51 votes, not 60.
Obama wants to change the way Washington works? Support legislation to end the filibuster.
That’s my parting shot for today.