Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Walter Mondale's Recommendations for Filibuster Reform

Bookmark and Share

What rules could be introduced in the Senate to ensure the filibuster is no longer a 'strategy for hijacking' the chamber and 'demoralizing the country?'

waltermondale10.jpgAt an event at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs Tuesday ("Restoring Congress: Time to Fix the Filibuster"), former Vice President Walter Mondale spoke on the pressing need for filibuster reform.

Lamenting how very little legislation can get through the chamber these days, the low number of hours Senators spend deliberating and debating, and the increasing frequency with which the use or threat of use of the filibuster is occurring, Mondale concludes that the filibuster is "paralyzing this country."

Calling the filibuster a "strategy for hijacking - that's all it is" (quoting the late Louisiana Democrat Russell Long), Mondale relayed a colorful history of the parliamentary maneuver in the Senate with stories that referenced the likes of former colleagues Mike Mansfield (D-MT), Jim Allen (D-AL), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), and Everett Dirksen (R-IL).

Mondale offered the following recommendations to limit what he views as the deleterious impact of the filibuster in the chamber today:

1) Reduce the number of votes required to invoke cloture from three-fifths of the body overall (usually 60 members) to 60 percent of those present and voting, presuming there is a quorum.

2) Reduce the number of votes required to invoke cloture from 60 to 55.

Mondale added that he does not want to eliminate the filibuster and simply become a majority-rule institution like the House where deliberation is even more scarce. The former Vice President thinks 60 is too high in the quest to find the magic number that strikes the proper balance between the institution's power to deliberate and the power to paralyze.

3) Eliminate the 'two-track' system.

The two-track filibuster system was implemented under the leadership of Robert Byrd to "reduce the bite of filibuster" whereby the regular business of the Senate is allowed to continue without the filibuster taking place - though the measure being filibustered was still held up.

This would bring back the 'talking filibuster' so that those who are holding up legislation are forced to show up and "tell us why they are paralyzing the country."

By returning to the single-track system, "Everything stops. And they'll have to be on the floor, making those arguments or making the motions, voting on cloture petitions, building up public knowledge of what they're up to."

4) Eliminate the filibuster (or threat of a filibuster) on motions to proceed, which, under current rules, impede the chamber from debating the legislation or a nomination.

5) Putting the onus on those wanting to continue the filibuster. Mondale would change the rules such that 41 votes are needed to continue the filibuster instead of 60 votes needed to end the debate.

As to how these filibuster rules could be implemented, Mondale states it has to be done at the beginning of the Congress - with a majority vote - otherwise, if advanced later in the term, a higher (filibuster-proof) threshold would be required to change the filibuster rules.

For all his serious recommendations, Mondale joked, "You know, this is basically not interesting stuff - but it's life and death down there!"

Mondale concluded, "I think it's demoralizing the country and it encourages immature behavior."

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: 412 US Senators Who Served with Daniel Inouye
Next post: Could Cory Booker Oust Frank Lautenberg?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

Political Crumbs

Haugh to Reach New Heights

The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.


Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting