Dick Durbin: Fed Up With the Filibuster

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 2, 2010 3:20PM

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning brought the issue of the filibuster front and center, as news of his refusal to bring an extension of unemployment benefits to a vote wound its way through the news cycle yesterday. Democrats, who've been frustrated by an inability to bring legislation to a vote on the Senate floor without a supermajority of 60 votes, were quick to make political hay out of Bunning's obstruction. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (SC) and DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen (MD) held a conference call for the media yesterday, highlighting what they see as an abuse of a procedural maneuver in congress. "Jim Bunning has done more to draw attention to the procedural abuses in the Senate than ever before," Van Hollen said. "This is part of the wake up call for Americans that Republicans are abusing the rules in the Senate."

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who has been thinking about the filibuster for some time now, is trying to move voters to support the Harkin-Shaheen filibuster reform proposal. In a nutshell, the proposal would progressively lower the threshold for blocking votes in the Senate over a matter of weeks, rather than effectively ending legislative progress at 60 votes. Durbin launched his website, "Fed Up With the Filibuster" last week. "The American people are sick of process blocking progress," Durbin writes on the page. "They're fed up with an arbitrary tradition that allows a minority of Senators to prevent popular, much-needed legislation from even coming to a vote," he concludes, urging supporters to sign an online petition.

Whether an online petition can fix a congress that American voters are increasingly viewing as broken, however, remains to be seen.