Killing the Filibuster


Ezra Klein notes that the American Constitution Society, the Sierra Club, Common Cause and the Communications Workers of America are holding a conference call today to highlight filibuster abuse:

One of the questions I’ve posed occasionally on this blog is whether various organized constituencies will eventually recognize that their agenda isn’t being stalled because specific senators aren’t convinced of the merits of their bills, but because the filibuster makes it extremely difficult to pass anything. If immigration groups, environmental advocates, labor unions, business lobbies, pro-nuclear power coalitions and so on began pooling some of their resources and relationships to work on Senate rules reform, that would be a big deal. And yesterday brought evidence that it’s beginning to happen.

Beginning, maybe, but probably not going anywhere. My guess is that this kind of thing will only make a difference if conservative groups join in, and they’ll only join in if they think their goals are being impeded by the filibuster. So here’s the question: are there any important conservative goals that could probably muster 51 votes but not 60 in the Senate? Given the size of the current Democratic majority, probably none at the moment, but how about in January? If you can think of any, the groups who are behind them are the ones who might make good political allies.

Of course, teaming up with these groups (if they exist) would really drive home the fact that filibuster reform is a two-way street. Liberals might get their way more often on some things, but they’d also lose more often on other things. It’s easy to say you’re willing to take that chance, but I wonder how many liberals would change their minds if they were confronted with some very specific examples of just what conservatives could do with a 50-vote Senate?

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