Harry Reid: The Filibuster Is Suffocating the Will of the American People

To save our country’s future, Democrats must abolish this arcane Senate rule.

Comments: 208

  1. And while we're at it, let's use the Electoral College as a tie-breaker, not to hand elections to candidates who lose by millions of popular votes.

  2. @JimBob for someone who lives in an area of the country that is not on a coast I would prefer to keep the Electoral College. Without it our voices are not heard nor truly represented. I am by no means a fan of the current administration but with the polarization in our country at fever pitch I prefer to see everyone truly represented as the Electoral College has time and time agin provided.

  3. @Nature Voter The Senate already gives smaller states hugely disproportionate representation. The president should be elected by the people, not the states.

  4. @Nature Voter Your point about the electoral college affording your vote the same weight as people on the "coast" simply isn't true. Your vote weighs more than mine simply because you don't live on the coast. And that's what's not fair. It doesn't justify casting aside 3 million more votes registered for the loser of a race. It's absurd on its face.

  5. So says Harry Reid, who ended up allowing Republicans to ram through judicial nominations through the elimination of the filibuster on judicial appointments.

  6. @David Please remember that Sen. McConnell, on the night of Pres Obama's election, vowed to make the then President a one termer. Part of his strategy included stymieing the President and his agenda at every turn, including blocking his judicial appointments. When Senator McConnell was able to, among other things, block hearings on Judge Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Justice Scalia's passing, he then had the temerity to blame Sen Reid for his being able to do so. I ask you this sincerely, what could President Obama have done in the face of Republican intransigence? He tried to work with the Republicans, sometimes facing fierce criticism for doing so from Democrats, and they refused to budge. Again, what other options did Senator Reid have back then?

  7. @Eye of Merton two wrongs don't make a right, just a really right wing Court.

  8. @Eye of Merton Good points. It's just that we are stuck now (whoever's fault) with an unending line of appointments going through McConnell that are padding the judiciary.

  9. Harry is absolutely right. A gerrymandered empowered minority is strong-arming the majority of the country. Progressive policies can never be enacted while this "arcane Senate rule" is in place.

  10. @Bradley -- Gerrymander has not effect in the Senate, which is elected state wide. Filibuster only applies in the Senate. Democrats have a majority in the House, the only place subject to Gerrymander.

  11. @Bradley. You can’t gerrymander a State’s vote for senator.

  12. @Bradley. Gerrymandering is only an issue in the House, unless, of course, Texas has come up with a way to count Oklahoma, or Louisiana or New Mexico votes in Senatorial races. (Given where we are today, I’m only partly joking.)

  13. The filibuster is a higher hurdle but not an impossible one. It naively assumes that Democrats and Republicans really aren’t all that far apart, and that at times will come together for national priorities or the good of the country. Maybe someday.

  14. You have 50 votes (or 50 votes + the Vice President's tie-breaking vote)? You win. Simple as that. Take away what issues you want to see pass or not, having a lower bar to clear means more legislation will actually see the light of day. More legislation seeing the light of day equals more citizens actually feeling the effects of their voting actions, which may lead to more citizens appreciating the cause/effect relationship of who they elect to Congress matters.

  15. The filibuster does enable a minority to stifle the majority from deciding policies and laws for all. However, the power to do is not the authority to do if it defies the consensus which provides that authority. The fact is that the minority is close to half of the people, and they are not okay with what the majority wants. That is a problem. I am convinced that most of the opposition is the responsibility of the least able to contribute the governance of this country, Tea Party and right wing Republicans. However, liberal democracies must offer all the guarantee that their rights and interests are not deprived by majorities which operate like tyrannies. Whatever their complaints, they need to be seriously discussed, considered, and worked through. It's one thing to disagree about a few issues but about all is a failure of our form of government.

  16. @Casual Observer Correct, the failure of the two party system.

  17. A true democracy -- not the Oligarchy of the USA -- would have thrown Mitch McConnell out of his position as majority leader, when he announced that he would make every possible effort to obstruct EVERYTHING proposed by Obama in order to make him a one-term president.

  18. Harry Reid essentially gave us Brett Cavanaugh by deploying the nuclear option on judicial appointments. Do we really need or want to do the same thing to the rest of the legislature? You never know when you’ll be the next minority on the right side of history in a world on the wrong side of history. Those moments were made for the filibuster, every political party deserves the right to their Mr. Smith goes to Washington moment!

  19. @Courtney Wrong, wrong ... how many times must we explain that the Republicans would have done the same in every scenario, because they have no respect for the opposition?

  20. Mr. Reid, You can forget representative government as long as the Republican hijacking of democracy remains in place and the Grand Old Propagandists are able to successfully hoodwink the Whites R Us masses with a delicious vanilla milkshake of fear, loathing and 'socialism'. Besides, Monarch Mitch McConnell has apparently settled on a monarchy as the proper form of American government...with a Twittering figurehead entertaining the duped masses with his daily performance art. No Democratic House legislation shall be considered unless Monarch Mitch approves. Monarch Mitch refused to consider the HR1 bill to expand voting rights, limit partisan gerrymandering, strengthen ethics rules, and limit private donor money in politics that might help make America an actual democracy. Monarch McConnell said that the bill was "not going to go anywhere in the Senate" and he would not put the bill to a vote on the Senate floor "because I [McConnell] get to decide what we vote on". Monarch McConnell called the idea of making Election Day a national holiday 'a power grab'. So forget about the filibuster, Harry. The other side has thoroughly rejected democracy, representative government and the people's will and adopted grand political larceny and monarchy as our new form of government. Until all of us rise up, register and vote in historic numbers in 2020, the Republican coup d'etat and their wrecking ball policy will dominate the American politiscape. November 3 2020. VOTE

  21. Thank you Socrates, for doing God‘s work.

  22. @Socrates Well said! Clear and punchy.

  23. @Socrates Trump, too, is suffocating the will of the American people. The more paralyzed Congress is, the more Trump dictates! Sen. Reid, you know the "Democracy" song, of Leonard Cohen? Leonard Cohen sang, "Democracy is coming to the USA (1992). I hope Democrats will use the "Democracy" song against Trump. I hope the Times will write about the "Democracy song, soon: "Democracy is coming to the USA" -------------------------------------------

  24. Guess they can then just chalk up any serious and positive actions “because filibuster”. A perfect scapegoat.

  25. The senate itself is already undemocratic because large states are massively disenfranchised. The filibuster protects disenfranchised urban America from powerful rural America.

  26. Some of us voted for gridlock. Now, let's repeal some laws.

  27. You cannot get laws repealed with gridlock. That’s the point, it isn’t just new legislation, it is all legislation. I would love to see federal laws repealed on marijuana and minimum sentencing, but gridlock isn’t going to get those laws repealed.

  28. Glad to see Sen. Reid supporting this.

  29. I agree Senator Reid, the Senate has become "the world's most debilitative body" and one of the things that protects these cowards is the filibuster. No votes means no responsibility and no consequences. Just getting them on record would be nice. I also don't approve of the idea of just declaring a filibuster as opposed to doing the hard work that performing a filibuster entails, speaking until you or your voice gave out. As with the gun laws, I'm sure the people who created the filibuster in 1917 would be appalled at it's abuses and how easy it has become to accelerate them.

  30. Oh, Harry! You ended the filibuster for federal court nominees and had no idea GOP would extend that to cover SCOTUS nominees. Right.

  31. At the moment we have one self-serving partisan hack elected by a handful of people in a regressive district in a republican state holding the entire country hostage while his cronies steal and pillage everything they can get their hands on. The system is broken beyond repair. We need to rewire our government and reestablish the will of the people.

  32. @mj The country was founded on the idea of State's rights and not an overweening Federal government. I am always amazed at how many folks forget their Gov 101 - the Federal system is designed to make it tough for the imposition of Federal laws on individual states and the idea that 'doing nothing' is better than rule by the elites in Washington.

  33. @SteveRR. Many laws within states will not protect citizens in other states against, for example, certain kinds of assault weapons, or cigarettes ( remember them?), or clean air and water etc. What we have now is an intentionally broken government. Remember “shrinking the federal government until it can be drowned in a bath tub?” Business oriented Republicans who don’t know or don’t remember the history of 19th century capitalism are anxious to return us to that time and its miseries. One way to do that is to create dysfunctional federal agencies, business without regulatory guardrails, politicians who choose their voters and their justices. When states’ rights take preeminence over federal law you end up with battles that we fought a civil war over. Some issues require a federal response. End result of too much states’ rights and a paralyzed federal government? Authoritarian federal government headed by not one, but two, fascist oriented men: Trump and McConnell.

  34. @SteveRR Our federalist system went through a major revision in the wake of the Civil War. Prior to that citizens identified with their state. When Lee was asked by Lincoln to lead the union army he declined, saying that his first loyalty was to his country, i.e. Virginia. After the Civil War loyalty was not to any particular state but to the country as a whole. There is no such thing as state patriotism.

  35. The filibuster has often been used by Democrats. It is one of the protections built into the system to ensure against the "tyranny of the majority." If a large minority feels strongly enough about something, they can prevent action. Is it abused? Yes. Is our politics today dysfunctional? Yes. Empowering a majority to run over a minority is not the solution to the problem we've got. Our problem is the corruption of big money in politics, that buys bad faith behavior serving what FDR called "moneyed interests" instead of any concept of national interests.

  36. @Mark Thomason Better the majority "run over" the minority than the other way around; like it is today.

  37. @Mark Thomason It goes both ways. For better or worse, controversial laws SHOULD have a high barrier.

  38. @J Anderson -- Yes. A good example of that is Brexit. A dramatic departure for a whole nation should not turn on 50% + 1. That is insufficient respect for the 50% - 1. Routine things can be different just to keep the system moving, but some things are just far more than routine.

  39. What about the notion that any and all legislation will sit in the back pocket of the majority leader so it never sees the light of day? There are obviously pitfalls to fixing it, but it has to be better than a single pol preventing anything from coming up for a vote.

  40. A simple majority should suffice for passing legislation. If it does not work out as planned, then Congress can always change or repeal it. However, judicial appointments with lifetime terms should require 60 votes to confirm.

  41. @MBR All this will work just dandy until it's your side who's affected.

  42. @MBR It doesn't take 60 votes to confirm any judge -- or any legislation. Clarence Thomas got only 52 yes votes, and Kavanaugh only 50. (Still way more than either deserved.) It takes 60 votes to override a filibuster, which prevents a vote from taking place. Democrats could have prevented the Thomas nomination from coming to a vote, but they didn't. Only McConnell has ever done that in Senate history. His claims that the Democrats did it first are lies.

  43. The minority deserves a voice, but Mr. Reid is right to point out that allowing unlimited time to delay is as good as blocking legislation entirely. I applaud Mr. Reid's courage in pointing this out, despite the fact that his party does not currently control the Senate. Perhaps if Congress were able to more easily pass bills, voters would feel more engaged and supportive of their government. Certainly the current gridlock is making nobody happy. Even if some bad bills get pushed through by a majority, voters will see that their votes have consequences and respond accordingly in the next election. As it is, I feel that many people don't care anymore since all their reps do is sit around waiting for something non-controversial to be proposed. If we knew there was something to lose by electing the wrong people, maybe the electorate would pay more attention.

  44. The filibuster has become an anchor around the nation’s neck. It has no basis in the Founder’s Constitution. The rule, which was created in the early 1800s has been greatly abused over the past couple of decades. A new rule correcting this needed if this country wishes to move forward and lead in the 21st century. Sen. Reid is correct.

  45. Before changing the filibuster, let's start by eliminating the arcane rule that allows ONE PERSON - the Senate Majority Leader - to block legislation from coming to a vote in the Senate. That is far more damaging to our democracy.

  46. @Robert Schechtman I think that may be a more sensible first step, because rule by 51 senators can be easily reversed in the next election, creating a Yo-Yo effect.

  47. @Robert Schechtman No ONE PERSON should wield so much power!!

  48. @Robert Schechtman YES! Anything brought forward by a committee should be put to a vote.

  49. This might help short term but would also cause some unintended consequences by making it much easier to change the law forever, which could result in major rapid changes with a simple majority. The real issue I think is that basically everyone thinks congress is doing a horrible job (10-15% approval) but the same bums (like Harry Reid for a long time) keep getting re-elected. What we need is more focus on congressional races and especially primaries by the media. Like asking why most of them never propose anything significant. Also more significant changes like non-partisan primaries would be a big improvement. And even major changes like making congress non-partisan and forcing them to run on actual policies instead of the letter beside their name.

  50. Majority is fine, but I think a Senate vote should have 10 percent of the minority's votes in favor of a bill for it to pass, or for a nominee to be confirmed. (In the current Senate that would be four votes Democratic Senators, meaning if four Democrats joined 47 Republicans, the bill or nomination would move forward.) We don't need a tyranny of the minority, but we also don't need the McConnell railroad we've got now.

  51. If the US Senate hadn't gotten rid of the judicial filibuster, McConnell wouldn't have been able to stuff the federal courts with over 100 right wing judges during the past 2 years.

  52. No one ever ran for the senate promising not to vote or discuss any legislation so there is no record of how they stand. The rules need to change The senate must vote on all legislation the house passes and live on that record.

  53. Coming from the guy whose elimination of the judicial filibuster led straight the the elimination of the filibuster on supreme court justices and the current Supreme Court...nice going Harry.

  54. @Roy You are very naive if you think the Republicans needed Reid to show the way.

  55. @Roy Finally, a commenter who hasn't forgotten history! Harry launched the nuclear option never thinking Democrats would one day be in the minority...

  56. That politics has devolved from being a reasonably collegial exercise to a scorched earth, take no prisoners exercise reminiscent of the 19th century, which should not be unexpected, or a surprise, as one of the major political parties has also returned to 19th century for its principles and policies. But, then again, the Founding Fathers never did intend for the hoi polloi to have the political influence it has now...

  57. In the last administration Democrats succeeded in changing the rules for appointment of Federal Judges to their advantage. After the last election they wanted to abolish the Electoral College. More recently many of them wanted to increase the number of judges on the Supreme Court. Now they want to abolish the filibuster. Whenever things aren't working for them they want to move the goalposts or rewrite the rules. As soon as they get into power again they'll forget all about this stuff, they won't want to change a thing--that's democracy for you.

  58. This only makes sense if it is coupled with repeal of the Electoral College. So long as the State of Wyoming (population 577,737) has the same representations in this august body as the State of California (population 39,865,590) it makes little sense.

  59. @R. Parker Totally different action.

  60. @R. Parker Nothing is stopping you from moving to Wyoming and helping to "spread out" the population...

  61. It is unfortunate to see Senator Reid essentially double down on the same terrible and damaging string of idea he unleashed in the first place. Yes. It's tough to get stuff through the Senate. It's supposed to be. That, I learned in civics and political science is EXACTLY what the framers intended. Also, "the Will of the American People?" I think Reid needs to reexamine how the Senate is configured. The Senate is not apportioned by population. His proposal would effectively exacerbate the issue we have with gerrymandering -- that it is NOT reflective of the population. Irrespective of conservative or liberal, how does giving Montana the same weight at California (or New York or Texas) enhancing the will of the people?

  62. If the filibuster had been abolished in 2017 & 2018, the Republicans would have abolished Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare, Medicaid, SNAP benefits, HUD,,,,basically every social safety net that we have. Don't ever assume Republicans won't get full control of Congress again.

  63. @Ann ObamaCare repeal effort failed when Senator McCain voter NAY and made it 49-51 so the filiblister did not come into play.

  64. Sen. Reid did not mention the important fact that today's filibuster is a caricature of the true filibuster. For most of the time filibustering took place, the filibusterer had to actually speak on the Senate floor the whole time. Then the Senate changed the rule to the painless filibuster, under which a Senator could simply declare a filibuster with no other action, and that would raise the threshold for approval of a measure from 50% to 60%. At the time it seemed like an improvement (it reduced the threshold from 66 2/3% to 60%) but by making filibusters painless it encouraged rampant filibustering on everything under the sun. Sen. Reid is right. It's time to get rid of the painless filibuster.

  65. Rather than end the filibuster, why not return it to it's original form in which a Senator had to hold the floor continuously, the particular filibuster ending when the Senator was unable to hold the floor any longer. Currently it seems that merely mentioning that a filibuster is planned requires cloture and 60 votes. Besides adding a personal cost in time and energy from an individual Senator, it also removes cover for those who use the cloture rule to "secretly" oppose a bill - not voting against a bill but simply by not voting for cloture.

  66. Indeed! The reforms to make the filibuster less than a total blockade of all Senate business actually made the filibuster more easy to employ as a tactic. When the Senate was unable to undertake any other business, the use of the filibuster was significantly less than it has been post-reform.

  67. @Bill The filibuster does retain it's original form. What they have been doing for some years now isn't a filibuster. It's the threat of a filibuster. It's become so common the distinction has been lost. I agree it would be a good thing to find it again.

  68. The House got rid of the filibuster. So should the Senate. The federal government is supposed to be functional not dysfunctional. Why should the minority in the Senate be able to block almost everything the majority wants. If the country doesn't like what the majority is doing in the Senate they can vote for the other party. However, along with getting rid of the filibuster it is critical to stop voter suppression tactics like voter ID laws. Fair elections are needed. And it also important to keep foreign governments from tampering with our elections. It is essential that Americans trust the electoral process for the democratic system to work.

  69. For the same reason a minority of voters in rural states play a disproportionate role in the electoral college and the get same number of senators as states with much larger populations. In our country the majority does not get to automatically dictate to everyone else. It is one of the things that helps make America a decent place to live.

  70. The real question here is how are Democrats supposed to achieve this as long as Mitch McConnell and Republicans control the Senate? Changing that be the first order of business because it has already ground to a halt.

  71. @N. Smith By the Press, publicly campaigning that impeding or prohibiting co-equal Congress Members from fully participating in their U.S. Constitutionally mandated responsibilities and duties is a Civil Rights CRIME against all Americans who voted for their own choice of U.S Government Representation. Its a Slam Dunk! And since filibusters and other such gidgets are by Congressional Rule Making they can be ended immediately.

  72. @Samuel Owen As long as there's unequal representation in Congress granting one party more control than the other, it's a crime. And prior to the midterm elections that exactly what we had when Republicans effectively controlling all three branches of government. THAT, Sir. Is not a Democracy.

  73. @N. Smith Political parties are not authorized or allowed under the U.S. Constitution to perform governance. Obviously independent members can vote the same. But when we as citizens and the Press continue to accept the false premise that a majority party can rule instead of 'independent' representatives we have no argument based on Constitutional Law. Full participation in U.S. governance by a Senator or House Rep.can't be blocked by Congressional rule making This is not Britain. The words democracy, politics and party appear nowhere in The USC. Instead phrases like member votes, advise & consent, investigations, & committees etc. are used. What about libertarians, independents, progressive parties and so forth under Congressional and or Party rule making such members and public citizens who may embrace them are effectively excluded governance. 'Political' gerrymandering like filibusters are unlawful. Aren't individual states further divided into counties with set boundaries? Then the population of those counties can be U.S. House Districts. But my argument is that all our Government Officials are freestyling instead of following The USC of 1992. U.S. House members that could have filed "I" before Mueller's report but had 'political and legal' reservations? One does not need a Law Degree to be elected President or to Congress. That should inform every citizen that they are being snowed by politicians posing as Public Officials. Good Judgement and The USC suffices.

  74. If Senator Reid is of a mind to make suggestions as an elder statesman, then I suggest he also address the problem that a handful of extremely rural states with far, far, less combined population than NY and CA have the power to completely control everything that happens there. This was not the intent of the framers of our Constitution. It was a temporary, accidental expedient at the time, and one which has become totally absurd over time, with changing demographics. If the Senators in this small states do not help us all and approve measures to correct the situation, then they are not patriotic Americans. Mr. Reid, please drive home this simple point.

  75. @Tom This fix could actually come in the House of Representatives in upcoming budget negotiations by refusing to include the Universal Service Fund charges on cable and phone bills that fundtelecommunications, hospitals, and libraries in rural communities. If the Senators from small states (e.g. Mitch McConnell, KY) want to hold our country hostage, then let them support themselves!

  76. @Tom Respectfully, you are off base unless referring to The Electoral College. States don't vote but instead citizens of States vote. NY & CA cannot control anything in The House because there are 435 House members total or which requires a simple majority of 218 to pass or defeat a Bill. It's our whole national population not state populations that the U.S.A. governs first & foremost. That's why The Senate has ultimate power over The House. And U.S. Citizenship trumps State Citizenship the latter have their own Constitutions. As to the Framer's intent(s) that is completely irrelevant. The U.S. Constitution is actual written law. Like driving 80 mph but the 'posted' speed limit is 55 mph. If stopped by Cop, what is the driver going to say it should have been posted at 80 mph.

  77. @Samuel Owen I mentioned the framers original intent to help those readers who are unaware of exactly how we have found ourselves in this totally undemocratic, idiotic situation which is a threat to the foundations of our nation. Surely you don't believe that idiotic laws should not ever be updated and re-written? And that abject stupidity should be kept in place forever because it is "the law."

  78. The best way to fix the problem is to stop clowns like Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell running the show. The framers may not have wanted the Senate to become a partisan graveyard, but at one time Senators were chose by State legislators & that was changed to direct election. The filibuster isn't the problem, its the gratuitous change's to Senate rules made by men in power for far too long. The best way to fix that is to fire them on election day. The filibuster is a good way to keep the minority in the discussions as well. our framers were also concerned about pure democracy, mob rules. The solution is to male sure anyone filibustering needs to stay on the Senate floor making their case.

  79. @Ron. Term limits on these jobs are also effective.

  80. Given today’s political climate, I reluctantly agree with Senator Reid. The current over-use of the filibuster thwarts majority opinion and weakens coalition building. But it is occasionally worthwhile to protect minority views on controversial issues. In light of that, might a solution be to restrict the use of the filibuster to 2-3 times each year for each party?

  81. I disagree with Senator Reid. Keep the filibuster. Bring back earmarks. Give members an actual incentive to work together and reach across the aisle again. Right now, there is no reason for any member to do this and thus no collegiality among opposing sides.

  82. I would refine Senator Reid's observation just slightly: the Senate is suffocating the will of the American people. By the very fact of over representation of small states and under representation of large ones, voting in the Senate is now routinely contrary to what the majority of citizens want. Taxes, for example, are taken from large states to benefit the small. The Senate has outlived its usefulness and now exists only as a toll-collector for whatever legislation wealthy patrons might wish to buy.

  83. @Justin "Taxes, for example, are taken from large states to benefit the small" Not dissimilar to Federal Income taxes being extracted from the 53% of Americans to pay for the 47% who pay none at all

  84. @SteveRR And that 47% are the rich, because if you work, and don't pay taxes, it's because you make too little. Maybe the 1% and corporations pay their share. If your rich, and you make money from money, you'll pay a higher tax rate than those with the pass though loophole and others. So working Americans pay more in taxes because they draw a paycheck. How is the equitable.

  85. To those of us who are not nor have never been U.S. Senators, the problem from our point of view does not appear to be procedural. The problem with the U.S. Senate seems plainly structural. As it stands today, the U.S. Senate makes a mockery of "representative" government, when voters from Wyoming and North Dakota effectively disenfranchise those from e.g. California and New York. Undoubtedly, at least some of the framers wished for wealthy landowners from less populous states to have some sort of "check" on true representative democracy by the masses. Today this built-in bias has completely overwhelmed the chamber and allowed one individual deeply in the pockets of corporate interests to grind the governance of the nation to a halt. Unless and until this structural defect is remedied, "procedural" deficiencies pale in comparison.

  86. The filibuster is only one of several undemocratic procedural rules of the senate. How about the rule which allows the senate leader, in this case Mitch McConnell, to refuse to bring any bill to the floor of the senate for a vote because he doesn't like it or because he thinks it will hurt his reelection chances. Or consider the rule which allows any senator to hold up the vote on a bill because he/she objects to the bill. The senate is without doubt the most undemocratic body in our government and badly in need of reform.

  87. @RF Add to that list (undemocratic entities/processes) the electoral college.

  88. There are NO RULES in the Senate, only precedent. Look it up. It’s the “Housification” of the Senate by back-water Republicans that lower the IQ of the Senate. In 2015, I attended a GAI training in DC and one of their analysts simply stated that the House was full of the lowest IQ and most poorly educated members in over 100 years. I witnessed House hearings run by Republicans and easily verified that statement. Logic and thinking was side casted for inept ideology based on biblical thought and 10th century science. Burn her, she’s a witch!

  89. Sad to me so many people fundamentally do not understand the way our government is set up. The Senate exists to represent the interests of states as sovereign entities. The state of Oregon's government is the first body the people of Oregon turn to in order to solve problems in Oregon. When our state needs federal assistance or cooperation from other states, we rely on our state representatives to put the interests of our state, our people, forward to the national body in Congress. The senate was never intended to be the "will of the people", it was intended to be a check on it. To give the states as political entities a measure of power in government. The total population of a state might be small compared to the rest of the nation, but as a member of the Union, as one of 50 recognized States in these United States, they have considerable influence. The difference between a few million people protesting something and a State representing several million people protesting something is the difference between mob rule and real political will. A mob protesting achieves only violence and disrule, a State resisting something represents the political will of a sovereign government that will actively resist a measure put in place. Just look at how states resist the Trump regime. You want to take that away?

  90. @Joel Lovely idea. But the 17th Amendment allows for the direct election of Senators, bypassing statehouses entirely. For us to go back to how the Framers intended it to work, we'd have to repeal the 17th Amendment by passing another amendment. I believe that the 17th Amendment was a mistake and we are living with the consequences every day. I can't prove this, but it's probably no coincidence that the filibuster was created 4 years after this amendment passed. Whatever happened, we now effectively have 2 Houses of Representatives, but one of them is anything but representative of the makeup of the country.

  91. I think what would be better is a return to the system of checks an balances and the spirit of compromise between the three branches of government rather than the political gamesmanship between the two political parties, particularly when the president is completely devoid of policy or thought.

  92. HARRY REID Warns us that the very existence of our Democracy is threatened by the abuse of the Senate filibuster. The GOPpers have used it as a weapon of mass destruction lo these many years, to devastating effect. McConnell's office has become a graveyard for many bills that are supported by a majority of voters and even of Senators. But McConnell is beholden to the GOPper extremists who place ideology ahead of official duty and power ahead of patriotism. It is high time that the filibuster be ended!

  93. Ha ha, the Senate considered as a democratic body. Even without the filibuster, a small minority of the population of the country can control the senate. If the filibuster were eliminated, it is still the case that about 17.5% of the population can vote anything down in the Senate. So something supported by more than 80% of the country can fail in the Senate. All the filibuster does is make this more extreme. The US constitution is anything but democratic.

  94. The question is whether the attempt to overturn the filibuster could be filibustered. There might have to be a 2-thirds vote in the senate of all present, according to Wikipedia.

  95. @Mark Browning They can do like Senator Reid did to get the change for the judges, simply say that 51 equals 60. That's basically what they had to do to get the change.

  96. @Steven Isn't that the so-called nuclear option? That might set a blueprint for railroading legislation, if it hasn't already.

  97. You mean the mechanism that just prevented Trump, Ryan & McConnell from being able to pass nearly any law that they wished to (assuming it was to the Freedom Caucus's liking)? You mean the institution where the Democrats are fundamentally at a disadvantage due to being piled into a small number of high population states? If the Dems can cobble together 51 Senators you'll get some more laws passed, but make it that much easier for them to be undone when the pendulum inevitably swings the other way.

  98. "When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appears to have a miniscule, near=-zero, statistically non-significant impact on public policy," from ""Testing Theories of American Politics, Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens," by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page (1914) It's the members of Congress and the thousands of lobbyists and the money spent by the latter for the votres of the former that crushes the will of the American people, not filibusters Everybody in Washington and many outside know that. Even, or especially, the former Majority Leader.

  99. @escobar On quote: 2014, not 1914. Old guy old habit,

  100. Then why didn't you do it under YOUR watch, Harry? #RepealSenateRule22

  101. The irony here is sweet. Harry Reid, what a clown. BTW he's the one that changed the rules so Supreme Court nominations only needed a simple majority vote. How did that work out for the left?

  102. Wrong. Check your facts. Harry Reid changed the filibuster rule for federal judge appointees only, not supreme court appointees.

  103. @Bill You would be mistaken, in fact Reid says, "I kept the filibuster in place for Supreme Court Nominees, believing the filibuster was necessary, for other Senate business". Republicans abolished the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees in 2017. So let's review, who controlled the Senate in 2017, wait for it, The Republicans, so who's the clown now.....

  104. Let's abolish the Senate.

  105. A unicameral government is actually used in at least one State (Nebraska), and it works quite well.

  106. God, I miss him. Seriously.

  107. The Constitution permits Congress to establishes its own parliamentary rules, but not rules that contradict the Constitution. Federal courts have ruled many times that the Constitution provides that all measure that come before the Senate except treaties, constitutional amendments and impeachments are to be settled by a simple majority vote. The Senate’s 60-Vote Rule and the House’s Hastert Rule—also known as the “majority of the majority” rule—are unconstitutional. If Congress refuses to abolishes them, the federal courts should rule them unconstitutional along with other parliamentary devices designed to prevent measures from being brought to a vote.

  108. The filibuster was used to extend the life of Jim Crow, by blocking civil rights legislation. For that reason alone it deserves to die. I am glad that Reid is making this argument now, when the other party controls the Senate. He recognizes that abolishing the filibuster will sometimes work against his own party's interests. But it needs to be done.

  109. This is a critical reform that is needed to restore sanity to American politics. The Senate was created as part of a compromise to ensure small states (in terms of population) felt they had a voice. Those states today are predominantly Republican, and on a state by state basis, outnumber the bigger states, meaning the Senate skews Republican. After all, states like California, population 40 Million, only get the same number of Senators as Wyoming, population 400,000. The filibuster gives those same small states yet even more power. While small states should indeed have a voice, they should not get an automatic veto on legislation the overwhelming majority of Americans want. I agree wholeheartedly: abolish the filibuster.

  110. Had the filibuster not been watered down by the Democrats our courts would not be now filled with Trump appointees. Governing is not supposed to be fast. 60% support is not unreasonable. 6 out of 10 is not a lot of support.

  111. @willt26 That would be fine if control of the Senate agenda were removed from the Majority Leader and made a proportional process engaged in by both the Majority and Minority Leader. Such a change would prevent a single individual from blocking legislation and nominations, forcing them to come up for consideration. In that case, the 60% threshold could perhaps be maintained.

  112. Mr. Reid's suggestion is horrendous. Abolition of the filibuster for most judicial appointments led to its abolition for Supreme Court nominees and cabinet appointments. Events since January 2016 demonstrate the terrible consequences of this development. The filibuster has served the country well for over 200 years, by forcing compromise and by preventing adoption of popular provisions (which the House's majority rule approach permits) that cannot muster a strong enough majority to demonstrate buy-in even among members of the minority party. No amount of dissatisfaction with current events justifies the filibuster's elimination. A better solution is for dissatisfied voters to elect enough senators who support their positions that they will vote for bills facing a filibuster by a dissatisfied minority.

  113. @Joseph U. Schorer I have to believe former Senator Reid knows what he's talking about when he says the filibuster was created in 1917. So it's inaccurate for you to say it has served the country well for over 200 years because it's only been in place for 100 years.

  114. @Joseph U. Schorer You didn't read the article, the filibuster wasn't created until 1917. So it couldn't have been used for 200 years.

  115. @Joseph U. Schorer It is the job of the President to nominate judges, of the Senate to vote yes or no. Sometimes, a bad President might nominate bad judges, that get approved by a simple majority of bad Senators. c'est la vie - just vote for better people next time. Only a simple majority is needed according to the constitution. The filibuster was never intended to be used in this way and is a historical accident. The minority in the Senate has no right to stop a nomination. Similarly, when Mitch in 2016 prevented confirmation hearings for Garland, that was unacceptable and likely unconstitutional. The process is intended to always work the same: President nominates, Senate votes yes or no.

  116. If you want change, it's best not to place blame on one side. BOTH sides of the aisle have used the filibuster for decades. "They used it better than us, so they are to blame," come on, you can do better. I remember Senator Reid, then Minority Leader said that he would "Never, ever", not just never, abolish the filibuster if he were Senate Majority Leader. And the Democrats were using it at the time. It's actually great that Senator Reid wants to end the filibuster, and it should have ended years ago. But to blame one group and then ask them to help change things isn't the way to do it. Don't insult me and then ask for my help.

  117. @Steven the “both sides used it “ line is a false equivalency. There were more filibusters during Obama’s tenure then the entire history of the filibuster before he was elected. As usual Republicans abuse the system for power and the Dems must do similarly to keep up. I suppose McConnell’s refusal to give Garland a hearing means a president will now be unable to get a SCOTUS nominee unless his or her party controls the senate whether Dem or GOP. Sad but recognize who set the policy.

  118. Many of these comments seem to be claiming that the filibuster is a sideshow, and that the real problem is that the Senate itself is unrepresentative, because each state gets the same number of Senators regardless of population. Well, of course it is. Our country is called the United STATES. The Framers insisted on important roles for the states, because that is what was required for our country to become something more than a confederation of independent states. Frankly, these days, I think that the country would be better served as 50 independent states. If Massachusetts wants to confederate with California and Illlinois, more power to it. But I don't think that they ought to rule over North Dakota and South Carolina simply by virtue of population.

  119. @Vanessa 3 million votes didn't matter in the last election. That's more people than some states have. The electoral college needs to go, although it will likely never happen since low-population states won't abdicate their overblown power.

  120. @Vanessa Your idea failed miserably in the period between American victory in the Revolutionary War and the establishment of the Constitution (1781-1789). I don't think it would fare any better today.

  121. @Vanessa And the reverse? Should Massachusetts and California be held hostage to, say, Kentucky, or North Dakota?

  122. Just as important is to end the power of the Majority Leader to block action on bills and nominations.

  123. @Tim Connor YES ! I have already written extensively about this. There is no power vested by the Constitution in the Senate Majority Leader. The Senate must change their rules to permit legislation to be taken up by other means than the agenda set by the Majority Leader. Two possible alternatives are: The Majority and Minority Leaders can both bring legislation and nominations to the floor in proportion to the representation of their parties. Legislation and nominations can be called for by either 1/3 (34) or 2/5 (40) of the Senators so calling. In either of these two solutions, the Majority Leader can retain prominence and primacy without having the ability to block Senate business.

  124. Let's focus on eliminating the electoral college. So many people don't vote because "my vote doesn't matter." Well it doesn't.

  125. @Ellen F. Dobson the movement to choose the president by the national vote is almost halfway on its way to success (states totaling half of the electoral college votes needed, have already passed the legislation on the state level). If a few more big states sign on, the electoral college will not matter anymore. No constitutional amendment or change of law at the federal level required, as the constitution says it is up to the states how they hold their elections and choose their electors.

  126. The GOP showed with the Kavanaugh nomination that it would abolish the filibuster whenever it suited its partisan purpose. If the Democrats had abolished the filibuster in 2009, when they had, for a brief, shining moment (between Al Franken being seated and Ted Kennedy dying) 60 votes they could have gotten a much better version of the ACA, and put forward programs to fight the Great Recession. In short, Harry, you are 10 years too late.

  127. Attendance should be mandatory while the Senate is in session, and some of the speaking time should be allocated by random drawing. I do not mean this as a mechanism to give everybody time, but rather as a means to ensure each member knows something about the matters being discussed. Since they are going to vote, they should be prepared to share an informed opinion.

  128. ELECTION REFORM MUST CAPTURE THE BENEFIT OF ENDING THE FILIBUSTER The filibuster is a tool of obstruction, but polarization of the occupants of the Senate Chamber is another link in the chain of legislative paralysis. As long as Senatorial candidates are afraid of being "primaried" (e.g., by the NRA or Koch Brothers), and this goes for both parties, obstruction of nationally popular policies will continue. Campaign finance reform and non-partisan gerrymandering reform are important. But a popular and perhaps more easily followed path to reducing partisanship is the state-by-state adoption of open or, as in California, top 2 primaries to select candidates (which brings in more centrist independents and raises turnout to make "primarying" by vested interests much more expensive). And use of "Ranked Choice Voting" (where second and third choices are made on ballots) in general elections, also a choice controlled by the states, eliminates the spoiler effect, whereby Ross Perot threw the 1992 election from Bush 41 to Clinton, and Ralph Nader threw the 2000 election from Gore to Bush 43. Leading members of both parties who are interested in making government work again, making it represent the people again, should support both filibuster elimination AND election reform.

  129. The Senate is a relic of the attempt by the writers of the US Constitution to reconcile slave states and free states. Not only should the filibuster be abolished, but the Senate should be restructured if not eliminated. One Senate seat for states that only 1 or 2 house seats (Hawaii, Idaho, Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire) and 1 additional Senate seat for 7 largest states (California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio) recalculated every 10 years after the Census. And lets get rid of the Electoral College.

  130. @Brad We would have to write a new constitution. The two senators per state is the only provision that can never be amended.

  131. No thanks. Not particularly interested in two or three states picking the President.

  132. I hope some energetic reporter actually finds out and then spells out what is on that list of actions that McConnell is holding up in the Senate. I think if people knew that they might be more inclined to do something about it. Unfortunately the news coverage of the House and the Senate is long on generalities and short on details.

  133. hmm.... When the shoe was on the other foot Senator Reid didn't complain about the fit. No problem diving in head first into divisive politics. Of course the Republicans are just as bad. What we need is a new set of rules. Rules that hold all of them accountable. The problem we, the electorate, have is it's a case of the foxes watching the hen house.

  134. One must have a long dialogue before eliminating the electoral college, as states' rights are still relevant today. However, I support the route being taken by a number of states, whereby they are talking about passing state laws that will force their electoral votes to go the way of the nation's majority vote, regardless of how their individual state votes. In this case, the states themselves are mandating how their votes go (states' rights maintained) and yet the popular vote rules. Most if not all of these states require a number of other states to follow suit before their law becomes active. That number of states must represent at least 270 electoral votes, enough, today, to elect the president.

  135. @Sabre This is a great idea but won't make a difference as the states (and party) who are beneficiaries of the Electoral College will not sign on to the program.

  136. I think the filibuster retains value. There are things that need to be slowed down, reconsidered, adjusted before they are passed into law. The filibuster can help with that. But we need to return to the traditional filibuster of the past--the speaking filibuster. If a group of Senators care enough to hold the floor for hours on end in opposition to legislation or appointment, and if the remainder of the chamber can't muster up 60 votes to stop them, then maybe it is a good time to step back and reconsider the issue. But that only applies when there is sufficient concern and passion in the opposition that someone or -ones is/are willing to take on the Herculean task of speaking for hours and days on end. We don't need an across-the-board 60-vote requirement for all Congressional business.

  137. It would seem to me that Reid started in the wrong place when he ended the filibuster. If anywhere, requiring a supermajority for judges makes sense if frustrating because judges are appointed for life, have great power, and are supposed to be non-partisan (having a judicial philosophy more attractive to one party vs. being political hacks or outside the mainstream). As far as everyday business, I'm not sure a supermajority doesn't cause more harm than good.

  138. There is no need to end the filibuster. The need is to enforce it as intended. If Senators were required to hold the floor and speak, then filibusters would naturally end because no one can speak forever. As it is now, the filibuster rule has morphed into a 60-vote, cloture motion requirement to get any business done.

  139. I agree with Mr. Reid, and wholeheartedly, the filibuster must either be abolished or modified. But to what end? The opposing party will simply reverse any outcome. And back and forth we go, over successive opposing administrations, undoing what the prior administration accomplished. In fact, what Trump is doing against Obama. Is this what governing is all about now? Endless stalemate?

  140. I would go a step further. In addition to ending the filibuster, I would require both chambers to bring to the floor for vote any legislation passed by the other body without the approval of the House or Senate majority leader. If the vote fails the members could offer amendments, and if that bill passes it would go back to the originating chamber and where they would be required to vote.

  141. Eliminating the filibuster is a double edge sword. One of those, be careful what you ask for, solutions. The elephant in the room is the power of monied interests pushing agendas that are favorable to certain ideological, economic or other desired outcomes. It is not likely that the legislators, who are dependent on these revenue sources, will do much to alter that dynamic. The days of a collegial cooperation and hands across the isle to resolve problems for the common good (if they ever existed) have disappeared in the rear view mirror. Government of the money, by the money and for the money. I doesn't have to be that way

  142. So basically he wants to change the rules so Dems can pass what their political agenda when they take over. But wait a second harry doesn't bipartisan mean it would pass even with the filibuster?

  143. @David Sacco That's why Sen Reid is a hypocrite. He was more than happy with the fillabuster when it served his purpose.

  144. It's not the filibuster - it's the senate itself. By giving Wyoming the same number of seats as California we virtually guarantee that the senate will represent the will of rural America rather than the people at large.

  145. @Sam So you want to re-write the consitution now?

  146. What we need is a constitutional convention to address our outdated and dysfunctional Democracy. And since that is not going to happen, the coastal states should succeed from the United States and form their own government.

  147. @Jack Edwards and perhaps secede at the same time

  148. Harry Reid, “ take my advice, I am not using it”.

  149. Thank you Doctor Death for lecturing us about how to lead a healthy and productive life. Seriously...this man and this man alone did more to thwart the rules of the Senate...all for political power and personal gain. I'm still trying to figure out how 1 man in the Senate can take $18,000,000,000 of our federal $ for jobs and construction of Yucca Mountain in his state...yet never allow it to be opened to accept nuclear waste scattered all around the country. You want to clean up the environment and deal with something 1000x more toxic than Global Warming? There are about 40 casks of spent nuclear fuel sitting less than 1/4 mile from the top of the MIssissippi River in Red Wing, MN. If those casks should open and or be blown into the river...you can kiss your love of shrimp scampi goodbye for the next 1000 years....that radiation will coat the entire MIssissippi River all the way through the Gulf of Mexico. Now tell me again what are our nations priorities..and why should one man be able to do so much to do so little for anyone other than himself?

  150. THANK YOU! Finally someone with actual U.S. Congressional experience speaks out as a former Constitutionally authorized Public Official and not a Political Hack. The U.S. Constitution (USC) explicitly prohibits any party or groups whether they be of a political, business, labor, religious, racial, sovereign state or whatever; be it public or private to casts a single vote in external Federal Elections or within Government itself. From public street level to within halls The One Person-One Vote Rule has been Constitutionally Sacrosanct since the USA was founded in 1776. The U.S. President, each Congress Member & each SCOTUS Justice gets one vote only just like U.S Citizens do. Certainly any individual or group can petition or lobby (politic) government officials but unless they'll Constitutionally 'sworn' Public Officials they are forbidden to conduct and represent any governmental business on The Peoples behalf--period. Although The USC grants Congress a right to make "Rules of its Proceedings" those Rules can in no way can supersede The USC itself! And for any Public Official to publicly express or act otherwise is to commit Perjury. The USC does not even grant minority party leadership! It says Congress itself shall elect a leader of each Chamber and its Officials. Each member is a co-equal in Public governing powers--period. My Congress Member is of my State not some other! And further SCOTUS acceptance of its last two was a FRAUD ON THE COURT. Redress Now!

  151. Why be dependent on the Senate? Let the States determine their own fate. California has paid maternity leave [for husband and wife] paid sick time, amnesty and free health insurance for the undocumented, a state run healthcare system, green laws, a new program that allows impoverished people to drive electric cars, service dogs are allowed everywhere [including hospitals], marijuana is legal, "farm to table" soup kitchens for the homeless and LGBTQ owned car dealerships! You name it we got it!

  152. The prime directive of the GOP is to destroy government. They've been stating plainly for years. They do enjoy the perks of being in office, where pay to play makes them rich, but they want the government to fail because it is the only thing that stands between the sheep and the wolves, and they must feed their hunger, right? Silly people expecting government to work while voting GOP. No wonder they think all politicians are crooks: so many of theirs are!!

  153. Because of this change, we were able to confirm more of President Obama’s judicial nominees than we would have been able to otherwise, leaving President Trump fewer vacancies to fill. That is a joke? The President has already filled 143 Judicial Seats with another 112 that will get done during his first term. https://www.uscourts.gov/judges-judgeships/judicial-vacancies That will be a total of 255 out of the 890 total seats (28.7%)

  154. The filibuster, as the electoral college and gerrymandering, is a partisan political tool which has no legitimate place in the business of congress. Expletives deleted!

  155. Maybe the Senate would function better if there was only one Senator per state and it met in a much smaller room.

  156. How about we also ask for a little discipline from our esteemed legislators. Maybe they could work ( and I do mean appear at “work”) from 8-5 with an hour for lunch. I propose 4 weeks of vacation. In this day of modern communication, they do not need to incessantly travel home. Maybe, there could be 3 hours a day where they all were required to be in chamber so they could actually listen to some of their colleagues debate rather than pose before a microphone in an empty senate/house. Isn’t it about time that these folks adopt a basic work ethic. If they did, perhaps they would not have to be so concerned with their asinine floor rules, pomp and circumstance.

  157. The will of the American People has been suffocated by the Electoral College for years. Why don't we start there?

  158. You had the opportunity to lead the charge when you were Senate majority leader but didn't. Quite telling...

  159. How dare Harry Reid come out of his dark closet and be a spokesperson on this issue. He is the one that changed the rules that had successfully managed the workings of the Senate for decades and threw us into the current mess.

  160. @William Harry Reid did not invent the filibuster, or even particularly increase its use. It's been a continuous escalation since the 90s until where we are today.

  161. Any member should be able to bring a bill to the floor for debate and a vote. Having one man from Kentucky control which bills get a hearing and vote and which don't is crazy.

  162. As someone who actually worked on Capital Hill there are literally thousands of bills written. The one’s that have a prayer or are popular are then sent to the appropriate Committee and that’s where most die. Just saying.

  163. At this point the fillibuster is a miniscule thread in the new vernacular which directs everything into the courts. If you look back fondly at some point in history (LBJ) when the senate worked, dry your eye. Direct your tears and loss of sleep to the Supreme Court, home of Roe V. Wade and Citizens United. We might as well abolish the senate for our days are numbered. Wilbur Ross, William Barr and Mitch McConnell in the center ring. She's leaving home, bye bye...

  164. Senator Reid, you had your chance to eliminate the filibuster and chose not to. Your regrets find little sympathy with me.

  165. Harry, it's time for the House to get going again, too. Anyone remember the "filiblustering" during the Supreme Court hearings. It wasn't the Senate.

  166. Is there not a middle ground, such as returning to the old requirement of the “talking filibuster”?

  167. Senator Reid, that's a very weak defense of you position on the filibuster when you voted to keep it. In fact, it's downright nonsense. Fess us that you made a bad mistake and then we'd be more inclined to listen to what you have to say now. Truth is the filibuster has always been an abusive subterfuge and should be gotten rid of. But obviously, that won't happen with the Reps in charge. You didn't do the right thing back then, and now it's too late.

  168. I’LL MAKE YOUR PROGRESSIVE CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT EASY FOR YOU!!! Eliminating the legislative filibuster is the single most important thing that is flying under the political radar. Without it nothing meaningful will ever be accomplished in Washington; nothing!!! So you can either pick a safe candidate who the media has convinced you is needed to win over conflicted Trump voters or you can vote for someone who has ideas for the future of this nation. That’s your first decision. So if you choose safe then pick whoever it won’t matter because Trump will get re-elected. But if you want real progress you need 4 things to happen in 2020: 1-The House must stay Democratic 2-The Democrat’s must get majority control in the Senate 3-Obviously we need to get Trump out of The White House and 4-We need a President to really push the Senate to abolish the filibuster. Now only four of the Democrat candidates favor that: Jay Inslee, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren & Beto O’Rourke. While I like all four of these candidates I think O’Rourke has been light on policy and Inslee has been too narrowly focused on climate change which is vital but not all encompassing. Elizabeth Warren is probably the best equipped for the job experientially but if she wins the election we lose a Senate seat to the Republicans because Massachusetts Governor (a Republican) will pick a replacement from his party. Winning the Senate back will be hard enough without losing another seat. So who’s left? Mayor Pete.

  169. Anyone considering getting rid of filibusters needs to watch Mr Smith Goes to Washington first.

  170. i think the main obstacle to getting things passed now and under obama has been mitch Oconnell, the fact he had caused blockages to Obama's choices and is now stopping bills being passed presented to the senate is simply outrageous ... these are from people who had been voted in to do these things.. that he has the ability to block the democractic process is madness .

  171. When Senator Reid was the majority leader, he used many of the same levers Mitch McConnell is using. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

  172. Six years later and Sen. Reid is still the voice of nuclear warfare.

  173. Add to that suffocation the Electoral College, redistricting, and voter suppression.

  174. A pox on both your houses! Filibusters arent the problem. Elected politicians working exclusively for the benefit of campaign contributors is the root problem! Institute public financing for all viable candidates. Mandatory imprisonment for all public servants and contributors who give or receive funds. Start doing the peoples business today.

  175. You think the filibuster is the problem? How about McConnell?

  176. You have no one to blame but yourself and your party for this state of affairs. McConnel is the absolute master of uncompromising stalling and delay and the GOP has shown for years that they would rather “win” than actually govern or try to represent anyone other than their base “base”. The GOP is so unwilling to even advance legislation for discussion, much less any kind of sane compromise, that they have left Democrats with no other choice. Go clean your own house Mr Reid.

  177. @Alexandra Hamilton Harry Reid is a Democrat. The GOP and Mitch McConnell currently hold a majority over the Senate. Back when the Democrats were the majority, Mr. Reid was the majority leader in the Senate.

  178. Thank you Senator Reid for your clear eyed analysis of where we‘re at. No fever breaking indeed, no going back to business as usual. To believe otherwise is political malpractice at best, a total capitulation to the obstructionists at worst. Speaking of Chuck Schumer, time to step on some toes.

  179. Well, in the fantasy land whereby the Senate reflects the will of the American People in the first place: we'll get right on that.

  180. Reid is right. And Biden is dead wrong! Biden is dangerous to our democratic progress and to our democracy. Obama said "we need new blood" when Biden announced he planned to run. We need to do away with Filibusters that benefits minority rule. And we need to elect a true progressive democratic POTUS like Warren and win the senate back for Democracy.

  181. Republicans can only retain power by reducing equal representation of Americans, so that's what they perennially do.

  182. And while we're at it, can we please get rid of bicameralism and the presidency and move to a parliamentary democracy? We should have one elected body make and execute the law. The judiciary should remain independent, of course. It may be helpful to have an upper house to oversee the government, but its powers should be limited only to oversight and maybe a veto against bad legislation and/or policy, but all real power to make and execute laws should reside with the parliament. And the parliament should be elected in and out en masse—all at once, so it's actually responsive to the people. The American system, with divided government and multiple election cycles, actually shelters each body from accountability and makes the government unresponsive to the will of the people.

  183. Harry's lament can be stated as, ''Yeah, we always stopped anything the GOP wanted to do, and especially nominations for the Courts, just ask Miguel Estrada. But now they do the SAME things, and that's just not fair at all. We should be the only ones insisting on things!''

  184. @L osservatore the GOP currently has the majority in the Senate, so it's the Democrats who are filibustering. It's time to stop this nonsense once and for all -- when a party gains the majority, they get to make the laws.

  185. Thank you for these words recognizing political reality and the anti-democratic nature of the Senate under current procedure.

  186. No, Harry. The answer: Mitch McConnell's removal from the Senate.

  187. Harry must think the Democrats are a sure thing to win back the Senate in 2020, otherwise, no way he’s advocating this.

  188. Senate rules are only a small part of the problems in effective governance. They are used by disloyal senators to hide behind. The real problems are the people elected to the Congress and the inherent flaw in America's founding. Only wealthy, powerful people with extensive business connections stand a chance at being elected a senator or representative. Raising campaign funds becomes their top priority. They become too beholding to donors and forget who they should be working for. America was founded as country form of 13 autonomous colonies. To ratify the Constitution too much autonomy and power was left in the hands of the states. Virginia feared Massachusetts. Rode Island feared all larger states. Southern slave states feared northern states. The Constitution united states which resented each other, made rivals of each other. The rivalries and resentments have persisted. Senators and representatives put state and district interests above the nation. Americans living in Mississippi may as well live in a different country as compared to Americans living in California. The tension between the federal government and state governments and between states, exacerbates differences in our people and serves to divide us. No wonder the Senate has become the graveyard of government.

  189. The underlying problem is that the Senate was designed to be a check on the ignorant and unaware. This is not the case. Senators were chosen originally by state legislators, which was a poor idea. The only true way to gain a check on the ignorant and unaware is by at least a knowledge test. ( One cannot run or vote for Senators without passing a knowledge test. ) Of course this will not fly well as the education system is not fair in terms of equal opportunity and fair competition. And many people will dislike the fact that power is taken away from them. However, it was the intent of the Founding Fathers to not allow Senators to be elected by popular vote due to the fact of ignorance and unawareness. There are many pragmatic realistic solutions to check the unaware and ignorant, as well as unethical politicians that choose to use the emotions of the voters, or unethical rhetoric to manipulate their constituents. However, they requite many changes occuring at the same time. Campaign finance reform would be one, so that non-human individual entities are not allowed to participate. ( Unethical politicians ) Using a ranked choice voting system would be another. ( Remove the power of the status quo two party system. ) Education reform ( A educated electorate is better. ) Mental health help. ( Emotions need to be removed from rational analysis of policy. Most people are mentally ill and unaware even if many psychologist do not define mental health in this way. )

  190. @baetoven Just want to add that it was a few of the founding fathers that were worried about the ignorance and unawareness of the general populace along with the ability of demogogues to manipulate the ignorant and unaware. And although there were many arguments as to the creation of the Senate, the above problem is the one that needs to be solved as far as one of the original intents of some of the founding fathers. It should be stressed that there was much fear about the general populace's ability to choose rationally. Almost all Americans, which is the general populace seem to miss this argument. The underlying problem is not the filibuster per se, it is the method that Senators are elected. It is a structural problem of the government. And once again, proper changes will not occur due to the fact that the general populace will not give up their power to elect Senators. One only needs to look at modern society to see quacks and cult leaders bamboozle the public. ( History is not needed to study unethical behavior or the mental illness of many. ) Structural government arguments must be made. The number of Senators per state is not the problem. ( This was a required compromise during the founding of America. ) Furthermore, state rights have evolved towards people thinking in terms of federal laws as one can easily measure by asking people in states who their state representatives are. The underlying problem of Senators is ethics and selfish behavior to win.

  191. @baetoven Just want to add that it was a few of the founding fathers that were worried about the ignorance and unawareness of the general populace along with the ability of demogogues to manipulate the ignorant and unaware. And although there were many arguments as to the creation of the Senate, the above problem is the one that needs to be solved as far as one of the original intents of some of the founding fathers. It should be stressed that there was much fear about the general populace's ability to choose rationally. Almost all Americans, which is the general populace seem to miss this argument.

  192. Trump, too, is suffocating the will of the American people. The more paralyzed Congress is, the more Trump dictates! Sen. Reid, you know the "Democracy" song, of Leonard Cohen? Leonard Cohen sang, "Democracy is coming to the USA (1992). I hope Democrats will use the "Democracy" song against Trump. I hope the Times will write about the "Democracy song, soon: "Democracy is coming to the USA"

  193. Of course, Harry didn’t obstruct the will of the people at all when he was Senate majority leader.

  194. @Once From Rome Take a look at the chart. The GOP increased filibusters exponentially under Obama. You have to be either blind or willfully blind to avoid seeing it.

  195. @Howard Kessler Of nominees perhaps. But Harry was a master at bottling up legislation in committee that he never wanted on the Senate floor, especially any legislation sent over from a GOP-controlled House, bipartisan or not. Harry was a kingmaker of obstruction.

  196. Not a bright idea. The filibuster prevents the party in power from running roughshod over the minority party.

  197. @Mike F. If used in good faith, perhaps. If it's used to stop any legislation from passing then that is not how it was intended. If the party that is not in power doesn't like legislation that was passed they can win an election and change it in the next session.

  198. @Edward Liberals always want to stack the deck to get whatever they want but it's got to work both ways.

  199. Why not! Dems assume the GOP is a rational player in this game of give and take. GOP is only in for the taking. Time to wake up and fight fire with fire.

  200. A Constitutional convention as proposed in the excellent book, "A More Perfect Constitution," is well worth reading. But a constitutional convention will not happen in our lifetime, so Mr Reid's proposal makes a lot of sense. We have a national government today that is just as dysfunctional as any failing large American city. Drama and dark comedy doesn't begin to describe the leadership void our country has today. Shakespeare would have had material for another volume at least of dramas. So change the rules to force these political hacks to actually compromise in order to get things done. A simple majority is far easier to achieve than a 2/3 majority. It will prove much more effective, not just efficient, in providing the electorate with evidence that their elected officials can or cannot govern our affairs. The fly in the ointment from the perspective of the democrats is that they must first win the senate in order to change the rules. But if the party doesn't shoot itself in the feet or other sensitive body parts in their circular firing squad for purity of thought, we might have an opportunity to once again put Congress to work for the American people instead of lobbyists. Then, can we talk about a ban on congressmen, their families, and their staffs from working as lobbyists et al. Yeah, "et al" is pretty broad, but in the eyes of a deceased Supreme Court Justice commenting on pornography, "I know it when I see it." So do the American people.

  201. Republicans now know the Democrats will get rid of it. But they won't get the chance. Republicans will end it the next time they win the house. Or whenever it is politically usefull. Democrats should have kept there mouths shut. They have given McConnell a valuable weapon to employ when needed. With a built in excuse!

  202. The point of the Senate is to be undemocratic. The filibuster is merely a rule that follows from this premise. Senators were never even meant to be subject to suffrage. My grandparents were adults before they were even directly elected. The Electoral College, too, gives power to the states over raw majorities. That's always been our Federal system.

  203. Filibusters. Electoral College. Gerrymandering. Big-donor campaign financing. Citizens United (corporations are people, my friends), Supreme Court (Bush v. Gore). Undemocratic behavior (Merrick Garland). Self-pardoning presidents. I'm starting to get the feeling we don't really live in a democracy, or even a representative republic, any more after all.

  204. @gary89436 The whole thing is rotten. And with the public so perfectly split there's no way out until the rich want the rottenness to end. The public has the votes but they can't see that preserving the machinery of democracy is the foundation on which the country is built.

  205. @gary89436 You're just starting to get this feeling? This is way past feeling. Add to this list the fact that the majority of the population is not represented by either one of the two major parties. The entire system is beyond broken. It is a farce.

  206. @gary89436 "I'm starting to get the feeling we don't really live in a democracy, or even a representative republic, any more after all." We don't. That was then. This is now.

  207. Reid's elimination of the filibuster for most Presidential appointments led in a straight line to the Conservative domination of the Supreme Court and, increasingly, the entire Federal judiciary. How's that been working out? What is more Reid's leadership of the Senate led directly to the Republican takeover. Shall we now further credit his notions? Truly bipartisan legislation can and will avoid the filibuster. Trump's Criminal Justice Reform, something Obama could never do, is a good example.