Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) warned Democratic colleagues Wednesday against changing filibuster rules in order to advance their legislative priorities.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter dated Tuesday, Byrd, the longest-serving member of the Senate, said that the Senate's rules on ending debate shouldn't be changed, but he encouraged forcing senators to actually sustain debate in a real, live filibuster.
The frustration over the filibuster has been especially manifest in the healthcare debate, where all 41 Republicans, sticking together, have been able to sustain a filibuster.
Byrd said the solution to the Senate's impasse would be to force Republican senators to actually filibuster — that is, continually talk and debate on the Senate floor without yielding.
"Senators are obliged to exercise their best judgment when invoking their right to extended debate," Byrd said. " They should also be obliged to actually filibuster — that is, go to the floor and talk, instead of finding less strenuous ways to accomplish the same end."