Senator Barrasso opposes meaningful filibuster reform. He instead joined a proposal by Senators McCain and Levin which called on both the majority leader and minority leader to require Senators to talk in order to filibuster, but to not to require it via a rule change. This gentleman’s agreement had no teeth, was not meaningful, and was eventually rejected by the Senate. We applaud Senator Barrasso for saying he wants President Obama’s policy to succeed, because successful policy results in a better America. We just wonder how a policy could succeed if it never had a chance at being implemented in the first place. You may contact the Senator here.
Senator Mike Enzi opposes filibuster reform. In a video posted by his staff this July, Senator Enzi argued that if the filibuster was eliminated then “you would take away the right for us to talk to those nominees. They would not have to see us at all if we were in the minority…we can put holds on and filibuster until the person has to come and see us…” We commend Senator Enzi for speaking out on filibuster reform, but obviously we disagree.
He refers to the hold process by which Senators can request the majority leader hold any nominee. At first, this tactic was used as the Senator implied in his video, Senators would put holds on nominees just so they could meet the nominee and talk about issues of particular importance to their state. However this is not how holds are used today. Instead, Senators put holds on nominees to extract political concessions from the other party. For this reason, majority leaders have increasingly chosen to ignore many holds. Adopting a talking filibuster rule would not restrict Senator Enzi’s right to request a hold to the majority leader, and if Senator Enzi just wants to personally vet a nominee, and not try to gain political leverage from such hold, the majority leader will in all likelihood grant his hold request.
Furthermore the Senator says that “there are probably changes that could be made but those changes need to be made with a 67 vote at the time of a new Congress that is the way it has always been done…what was trying to be done here was to break a law to change the law”. Again we disagree with the Senator’s legal assessment as we wrote in our first article the constitution trumps Senate rules. We applaud the Senator for taking a hard look at filibuster reform and releasing a video for his constituents. However, we argue that the filibuster is not being used solely as Enzi suggests and that he would still have ways to express his concerns about not being able to consult on nominees. You can contact the Senator here.