Before the start of the 112th Congress, in December 2010 and January 2011, the Alliance for Justice, the Brennan Center, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Common Cause, the Sierra Club, United Auto Workers (UAW) and Voices for Progress led a broad coalition of progressive organizations, dubbed Fix the Senate Now, to support the Senate rules reform effort championed by Senators Merkley, Udall, and Harkin.
Broad support for change took the form of more than 40,000 calls to Senate offices, more than 100,000 petitions signed and delivered to the Senate, and dozens of supportive editorials from national and state outlets coordinated through the coalition.
Now, recognizing that the modest “gentlemen’s agreement” package of reforms agreed to at the start of this Congress hasn’t changed the rampant obstructionism in the Senate, the Fix the Senate Now coalition is re-engaging, making the case that substantial Senate rules reform in the next Congress is still needed.
The Alliance for Justice, the Brennan Center, CWA, Common Cause, the Sierra Club, UAW and Voices for Progress are among the organizations involved in renewed conversations to back substantial Senate rules reforms. Other organizations and academics will likely join the effort to support rules reform and to back substantial reforms similar to those backed by Senators Merkley, Udall, and Harkin at the start of this 112th Congress.
While discussions about Senate procedures sound esoteric, the truth is anything but – the basic functioning of our democracy is under assault by continued, partisan obstruction aided by abuse of the Senate’s rules.
Obstruction, especially in the form of the filibuster and the threat of the filibuster, is at an all-time high during the Obama presidency. This imperils our country’s ability to rise to the significant challenges of our time and has blocked progress on a host of issues that have majority support but failed to cross the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.