Weekly Column: From The Mailbag--Removing The Filibuster Would Increase Divisiveness Rather Than Efficiency
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
As participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces. I post information about various issues of importance on my website, http://crapo.senate.gov. One of the issues Idahoans have contacted me about recently is the proposal to revise the standing rules of the U.S. Senate to remove the Senate filibuster, which requires 60 votes to end debate and proceed to a vote. The following is my response:
The Senate is commonly referred to as the world’s most deliberative body and varies greatly from the structure and procedures that favor the majority in the House of Representatives. The Senate, as outlined in the Constitution, is to serve as a check and balance to the House by limiting hurried decision-making to ensure careful consideration of a given proposal. With this in mind, any proposal to revise Senate rules and procedures must preserve the unique nature and intent of this legislative body.
Removing the ability to filibuster legislation would minimize the Senate minority’s power to force further debate or compromise. Thus, the efforts would reduce incentive for the Senate to forge broad agreements and would likely increase divisiveness rather than efficiency. We should be cautious not to promote changes to tip the balance further for one side.
I, too, am disappointed that the Senate has not achieved more solutions for the good of America. It has been difficult to sense the possibilities inherent in our democracy when we find the agenda muddied by political rancor that undermines principled public debate and prevents opportunities to reach mutual understanding and resolution. This breaks down the opportunity to forge agreement and usually contributes to divisiveness, ultimately resulting in frequent attempts to block controversial measures from consideration.
Senators must work together to promote sound policy and have a robust debate on important matters before the Senate that allows for the consideration and votes for alternative solutions. Committees of jurisdiction must be allowed to work and build a strong legislative record by hearing all points of view. In addition to making the process transparent to the public, the question and answer process provides an opportunity for senators to explore options that could lead to more bipartisan agreement.
For more information about the issues before the U.S. Senate as well as news releases, photos, and other items of interest, please visit my Senate website, http://crapo.senate.gov. The website also provides information about how to contact me to share your views via email, phone and mailing addresses. News about recent activities and information about accessing my Facebook and YouTube pages and following me on Twitter can also be found on the website. Links to legislation and other resources to assist Idahoans who need help with federal agencies can also be accessed on the website. The messages you send me help to shape my approach on a number of important matters. Please continue to contact me and share your thoughts and ideas.
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