DODD WON’T HELP REFORM FILIBUSTER…. It’s been about a week since Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced their proposal to restore majority rule in the Senate, and not much has happened since. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) signed on as a co-sponsor, but with Congress on recess, no one else has endorsed the bill.
Realistically, there’s almost no chance 67 votes will materialize to actually pass the measure, but the key is to have a debate that better informs the public about the Republican scandal. This morning, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) weighed in, but wasn’t especially helpful.
“I totally oppose the idea of changing filibuster rules,” Dodd said during an appearance on MSNBC. “That’s foolish, in my view.” […]
Dodd said that changing filibuster rules wouldn’t do much to change a culture of incivility he said had crept into the Senate.
“There’s nothing wrong with partisanship. We’ve got to get over this notion that there’s something evil about partisanship,” the Connecticut senator said. “It’s the lack of civility.”
Some of this is compelling — there’s nothing wrong with parties standing up for their issues and principles — but I would nevertheless love to hear more about what, exactly, Dodd proposes as an alternative to reforming the filibuster rules.
At this point, a 41-vote Republican minority has decided that a 59-vote Democratic majority shouldn’t be allowed to vote on any meaningful legislation. The Senate, the GOP minority adds, also can’t vote on key administration nominees or fill many judicial vacancies. Republicans will likely be rewarded for their unprecedented tactics — perhaps even with their own majority — because voters are disgusted that Congress can’t get anything done. (That the electorate would reward the party that’s responsible for the breakdown is the irony that most Americans fail to appreciate.)
Harkin, Shaheen, and Durbin believe bringing back majority rule would make it possible for Congress to govern again. Dodd disagrees. Fine. But how, then, does Dodd suggest policymakers proceed? If filibuster reform is “foolish,” what’s sensible?
I suppose the alternative is to wait for the Republican mainstream to become sane again, but that might take a while. One might also hope the GOP’s tactics generate a backlash, which would discourage additional obstructionism, but the opposite seems to be occurring.
So if the existing rules must remain untouched, what’s Dodd’s Plan B for allowing American government to function again?