Times have changed. Now that Republicans have fallen out of power in Washington under the weight of their own failed agenda, they have started using the filibuster as a tool to obstruct almost everything the Democrats -- the party elected to the majority by the American people -- try to accomplish.  Republicans have used the filibuster to weaken or kill the public option, a jobs bill, global warming legislation, financial reform, judicial nominees and more.  The filibuster has been used a record number of times in recent years -- well beyond any prior usage -- as the Republican party has become the "party of no."  According to Senate.gov, in the last two years that Democrats were in the minority in the Senate, there were 54 uses of cloture, the procedure used to end a filibuster.  In the first two years the Republicans have been in the minority, they've used it 112 times.  A tool once used to stop extraordinary legislation is now being use to obstruct the will of the American people.

The current Senate rules including the filibuster have only been in effect since 1975.  These rules have been changed formally seven times since the Senate first met in 1789.  The world has changed significantly since 1975, and so too should the Senate rules change to reflect that new world.  Stagnation on every issue is not what our forefathers envisioned. The filibuster should be used as a last resort to protect the interests of the American people against the tyranny of the majority; it shouldn't be used as a way to obstruct the will of the people.  If Republicans are going to exploit the current rules to do that, then it's time to change the rules on behalf of the American people.

That's why Senate rules, including the filibuster, should be updated.  There are a lot of proposals out there for reform of the filibuster and in January 2011, the new Senate should take the best parts of those proposals and institute changes that will improve the Senate and make its actions more reflective of the will of the people.  I'm not a parliamentarian, but it doesn't take an expert on the Senate's rules and regulations to tell you that something is wrong in Washington. People are hurting and they need action.


Cross-posted from Daily Kos