Thursday, January 3, 2013

Merkley-Udall Reforms

Via Weigel, here's the set of reforms that Merkley and Udall are proposing, and for which they say they've got 51 votes, 48 of which (I think) are publicly declared. While I'm not sure the talking filibuster is all it's cracked up to be, everything here looks to be somewhere between neutral and helpful. I really like the idea of expediting nominations, but I thought the real sticking point there was the anonymous holds rather than the 30 hours of post-cloture debate. 
Eliminate the Filibuster on Motions to Proceed: Clears a path to debate by making motions to proceed not subject to a filibuster, but providing two hours of debate.   
Require a Talking Filibuster: Forces Senators who filibuster to actually speak on the floor, greatly increasing public accountability and requiring time and energy if the minority wants to use this tool to obstruct the Senate. 
Expedite Nominations: Reduces post-cloture debate on nominations from 30 hours to 2 hours, except for Supreme Court Justices (for whom the current 30 hours would remain intact). 
Eliminate the Filibuster on Motions to Establish a Conference Committee: Reduces the steps to establish a conference committee from three motions to one, and limits debate the consolidated motion to 2 hours.
Whatever happens with filibuster reform this time, I hope that it paves the way to more substantial reforms in the future -- perhaps in time for us to push through truly awesome left-wing legislation in 2017. 
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