BAYH SEEMS SERIOUS ABOUT FILIBUSTER REFORM…. It was encouraging yesterday when Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) appeared on MSNBC and voiced his support for lowering the filibuster threshold from 60 to 55. What was arguably even more heartening was evidence that he seems to mean it.
Last night, Bayh’s press office sent out a press release with the headline: “Bayh Calls for Filibuster Reform .” It included a link to the senator’s MSNBC interview, and referenced remarks Bayh made on the air:
“The minority needs to have a right. I think that’s important. But the public has a right to see its business done and not routinely allow a small minority to keep us from addressing the great issues that face this country.
“I think the filibuster absolutely needs to be changed.”
Now, Bayh obviously isn’t seeking re-election, so his office has no one to impress with press releases like this. Maybe Bayh means it and intends to actually work on this during his final year on the Hill.
What’s more Greg Sargent raises a good point about the media: coverage on Bayh’s criticism of “partisanship” and political “dysfunction” has been pretty intense, but major outlets have generally ignored the senator’s call for a solution that would actually make a difference. “I get that filibuster reform looks like a non-starter,” Greg noted. “But given that Bayh’s every pronouncement about the evils of partisanship is getting so much attention, it seems odd that his recommended solution to the governmental paralysis created by it is getting no attention at all.”
This matters. The media is holding Bayh out as some saintly centrist, but news outlets are only reporting the parts of the senator’s comments that fit into their preferred narrative — “both parties” have created a bitter, toxic political environment — instead of what the senator actually wants to do to help fix the problem.
Bayh’s support for reforming the process Republicans broke can make a real difference — his endorsement makes changing the filibuster rules seem like a necessary, mainstream idea. And it is. But this will only gain traction, and the Senate will only be able to function again, if the public hears about it.