Rep. Grayson: Change Senate rules to require 55 for debate cloture

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl.) is urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to propose revisions to the Senate's cloture rules so that only 55 votes, instead of 60, would be required to end floor debate.

His effort -- spearheaded with the help of an online campaign at StopSenateStalling.com -- takes special aim at the healthcare debate, which Grayson said has fallen victim to countless overused and unfair filibuster threats over the past few months.

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"Why should launching wars and cutting taxes for the rich require only 50 votes while saving lives requires 60?" asked Grayson, who listed a series of important bills that passed with fewer than 60 votes.

"Join me in calling for an end to this unfair system," he added. "Tell Majority Leader Reid to modify the rules of the Senate to require only 55 votes to invoke cloture instead of 60. Fill out the form below to sign the petition today!"

So far, Grayson's campaign has netted about 7,000 signatures, though a cursory glance at the names on the list yields a few duplicates.

The letter included as part of Grayson's petition reveals the congressman's reasoning: A change to the chamber's historic cloture rules would best serve voters, who elected Democrats in 2008 "with a mandate... for major change," he wrote.

House Democrats for the most part have rallied together to overcome GOP opposition with the help of rules that favor a simple majority, but many of the lower chamber's efforts remain stalled in the Senate because "no-mongering Republicans" have "abused the filibuster rule like never before" and continue to obstruct progress, he added.

Consequently, Grayson stressed his Senate colleagues would be wise to pursue a change to the chamber's rules that would decrease the number required to invoke cloture from 60 to 55. As Grayson pointed out in his letter, the Senate has previously implemented such a change: Lawmakers reduced the minimum for cloture from two-thirds to three-fifths in 1975.

"The filibuster does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. If the Founding Fathers had wanted it, they would have included it," the congressman said. "Instead, this undemocratic rule allows small-state senators representing as little as 11 percent of the country to thwart the will of the other 89 percent."