The Democratic majority in the Senate has dropped below 60, and suddenly the air is thick with calls for filibuster reform. As a practical matter, it’s hard to see how the filibuster could be altered unless leaders in both parties agree. So – any reason Republicans should do so? Over the next few posts, I’ll suggest some ways to think about this problem.
This is the third installment in a series. Click here to read the rest of the series.
Another caution to keep in mind about the filibuster: as with campaign finance reform, past attempts to reform it have instead aggravated the very conditions that reformers most deplore. After the Civil Rights filibusters of the 1960s, then Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd advanced an ingenious proposal to avoid future Senate paralysis: Instead of a filibuster stopping all Senate business, it would only stop the one particular measure targeted by the filibuster – other bills could proceed. Instead of containing the filibuster, this measure normalized it – making it a much more common feature of Senate life than ever.
Advocates of reform should be careful what they wish for.